Don’t Try This at Home
From some very preliminary opportunistic fieldwork conducted during an important organisational studies conference in Barcelona this summer it was found that expenses receipts were a major preoccupation for many society testers. A particularly poignant vignette from this fieldwork was provided by an experiment in the collective ordering of the highly refreshing drink of orxata (unknown to many of those involved in the experiment until then). Apart form providing an opportunity to see Douglas Adams’ Bistromathics “in the wild”, the vignette also raised a number of interesting calculatory and ethical issues about whether such an “unknown” (unknowable?!) object would fit into the increasingly rigid categorisation and classification schemes of the administrative bureaucracies of the institutions to which the various self experimenters belonged to and then, on seeing a plethora of discarded receipts on the floor, about whether to exploit or not the get-rich-quick opportunity presented by these trampled pieces of paper. Now, in true STS fashion, a completely new direction to such experimentation is being provided by the technological innovation of the Random Expenses Receipt Generator. The article includes some ‘bonus tracks’ in the form some brilliant accounts of the expenses practices of British journalists and a link to an article about the institution by this profession of the proto-market device of the London Bill Exchange.