This article reflects critically on forms of openness and participation emerging from a collaborative network using information technologies for knowledge sharing on climate change and international development. It explores how multiple interpretations of these concepts coalesce around a particular initiative, shaping ways of working and understanding across different epistemic cultures (Knorr-Cetina, 1999) in the network. The resultant shared meanings and practices, it is argued, are a product of existent epistemic and participatory cultures, internal and external dynamics and economies of power, and emergent ways of working that are further shaped by engagement with particular information technologies and protocols. The process through which these shared meanings are constructed, however, is rarely transparent or openly reflected on, but rather, it emerges through the normalization of particular practices that “organize” our social relations. This limits our understanding of how a given “architecture of participation” has been constructed, or how it has situated those working in it. I consider the influence that these processes of meaning-making have had on the present shape of the network and reflect on what this means for such forms of collaboration more generally.
international development; climate change; epistemic cultures; discourse; ICTs; negotiation; networks; international development