About the Odyssey Group
The Odyssey Group is comprised of a number of academics who are, in various ways, seeking to explore the emerging social potential of new modes of electronically-mediated communication. These new modes, particularly applications of internet technology, are seen by the members of the group as requiring changes in the conventional forms of conceptualisation and theorisation of social interaction and social structuring, of personal and social identity, of the nature of knowledge and of skill. The new technology affords new forms of social practices, with considerable potential for significantly altering the relationships of power and authority within social formations.
The extent to which such potentiality is realised will be a matter of empirical investigation, rather than of technological pre-determination. However, it is also a matter which is open to social shaping, and the potential directions of the use of the technology have strong connections with the declared policy goals of the UK government , of other liberal democracies, and of major inter-governmental agencies. These include reduction of poverty, promotion of social inclusion, delivery of better healthcare and education, enhancement of transport facilities whilst reducing associated pollution. The members of the Odyssey Group seek to examine ways in which the new technology may contribute to the achievement of such aspirations.
The Odyssey Group meets at physical locations for various events. These have included an inaugural workshop in August 1999, in Ithaca, upstate New York, and a workshop on 'cyberontology' held at the University of North London, in October 1999, where the keynote speaker was Professor Stewart Clegg. The Group met for a workshop in August 2000, at Ely, Cambridgeshire. In 2001 (23rd August to 7th September), the Group held a workshop in collaboration with the Centre for Social Policy Studies, University of Ghana, Legon.
In addition, the Odyssey Group members are engaged in various forms of joint work, including the production of papers and articles for publication via this and other websites, and in conventional printed forms. A special issue of Urban Studies, on 'Intelligent Urban Development', was published in autumn 2000, jointly edited by 3 members of the Group, with contributions from others. An edited collection, 'Distributed technology, distributed leadership, distributed identity, distributed discourse: organising in the information age', is under preparation for publication by Ashgate Press; this is co-edited by Margaret Grieco, Len Holmes and Dian-Marie Hosking, with contributions from other members.