Access Grid Environments as Spaces of Mixed Spatial Interaction
Using Actor Network Theory, the paper investigates the relationships between people and technology and the way these relationships construct social spaces in Access Grid (AG) environments. This investigation challenges prevalent perceptions about the dominance of technology in driving innovative research practices, and proposes a cyclic relationship between people, the technology and other artefacts used in the course of AG sessions. The paper highlights the various elements comprising AG communications, and finds that these generate a unique setting of mixed spatial environments in which the physical and the virtual coincide as if residing in the same space to create an almost seamless flow of interactions and exchanges. However, the paper -shows that the seamlessness is occasionally disrupted by a ‘virtual divide’ generated sometimes by technology, the people, or the interactions between people and artefacts such as cameras, microphones, or furniture. The paper outlines a process which identifies assemblages of factors conducive to the creation of mediated collaborative research environments and the construction of globally accessible spaces of collaborative knowledge creation.