Rendering Supply Chains Research and Its (Dis)contents

An Anti- Paper on Open Knowledge and Maintenance as a Research Ethos


  • Miriam Matthiessen
  • Anne Lee Steele



maintenance, open knowledge, supply chains, knowledge economy, capitalism, anti-paper


Supply chains are fundamental to contemporary forms of capitalist production and circulation, but rarely make themselves known unless they stop working. This ‘anti-paper’ documents the beginnings of a project grappling with the possibilities and limitations surrounding digital renderings of supply chains and related research online in a way that goes beyond the spectacle of breakage. It is an ‘anti-paper’ in that it documents process and learnings over findings, results, or other finalised outputs. Section one introduces the project and the wider context it was born from and into, while section two reviews the existing landscape of digital projects surrounding supply chains and our attempt to develop some heuristics for thinking through their underlying epistemological, informational, and design assumptions, and how approaches to digital supply chain renderings differ along these lines, with possibilities and constraints entailed by each. Section three documents the dilemmas faced so far in our own project, and section four concludes by reflecting on maintenance as a research ethos and its relevance to learning about supply chains.