Engineering Problems: On Creating and Transforming Problems for ‘Optimizing’ Solutions in Software Culture

While it seems quite easy to find it plausible that people come up with clever ideas and solutions for certain problems, given that those problems are actually there, in front of the person who is dealing with the problem, it is quite hard to imagine the process of coming up with, finding, creating a new idea seemingly out of nothing. The problem becomes a mystery, when we shift the scenario from the handyman who repairs plug sockets with rubber rings to the alleged ‘genius’ who startles from sitting in the green, having a game changing idea; or, in between those extremes,, engineers finding out what to do next in their offices, far away from their workshops.

So, here is my research question: How are problems created? Furthermore: How to create the problem? How to transform it to a problem with solution? How to process then further into the performative construction of the concrete solution?

To do so, I will encounter scientific literature from different disciplines, not limited to humanities either, and look for the pop-cultural and everyday discourse of creativity and technology development. Since I do not want to just contribute to the investigation of this discourse, but to understand how those mysterious acts of technological creativity are done, I will do ethnographic fieldworks in the fields of hackathons, which are strongly emphasizing the role of creativity. Furthermore, I am looking for contrast cases, like other projects in creativity research, and cases of technological inventiveness in techno-science scenarios.

Project leader(s):
Peter Müller


Project type: