This is where it came from:
•Winner, 2007 Ludwig Fleck Prize given by the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S).
•Awarded quot;Best Information Science Book 2006quot; by the American Society for Information
Science and Technology (ASIS&T).
And it was mostly to do with
plants ... which are supposed to be
My brain hurts ... a lot ...
The Mahabharata – what was once there is no longer
- dealing with the past
- the nature of existence and death
Boulter - how and what data is stored (fossil plants)
- asserts all will be the same
- present day tools will recreate the past perfectly, uniformly
Douglas – how humans adapt to a new represented system
- there’s a politics and reality to colonisation
- entities become more and less real, a manageable form, when categorised
A large volume of information
stored in a computer and
organised in categories to facilitate
Perhaps the most powerful
technology in our control of the
world and each other over the past
two hundred years has been the
development of the database.
Databases are not a product of the
computer revolution; if anything
the computer revolution is a
product of the drive to database.
•Need standards when building
•Each layer needs own set.
•Statistics started - people
became more like their categories.
Do you think they became more like
the categories they were put in or
did the categories become smaller
and more in-depth, therefore
making them fit the category?
•Best standards don’t always win.
•Many infrastructure models exist.
•Interoperability the key.
•Doomed research – info lost.
•No storage medium is permanent
so requires continued maintenance.
•And reliable metadata from
•More info you provide, more work
have to do.
Control of knowledge
- who has the right to speak on behalf of a group?
- flattening of knowledge hierarchies a powerful social force
- possible to generate and search large databases
- some believe privacy days are over
Patterns of ownership
- privatisation of knowledge – who owns it?
- sometimes forget the role of traditional knowledge
•Drive for an imperial archive.
•Protocols – what’s put in and what’s
left out just as important.
•How to deal with old data – need to
preserve original in good form.
•Narrowing of knowledge gap.
•Breakdown of digital divide.
•Faster research and publishing
•Holding onto old ways.
•Importance of the human memory as
•Classifications needed for greater
•First databases hierarchical – dependent
on what ordered entered.
•We now have more flexible databases.
•Derrida in Archive Fear –
developing new computer
technologies creates new traces and
new archives meaning a new past.
Does the nature of the technology
used either directly or analogically
produce changes in our
representation and understanding
of the past?
•Now have the technology to build a useful
•The nature of record keeping –
development can be sparked equally by
social forces or scientific developments.
•Thus technology does not have logical
preference in driving science and
society, which do not drive the technology.
•Apart from the shocking grammatical errors
‘After the expression its correlate – database.’
‘... easy to add new elements to the end of list as it is to
insert them anywhere in it.’
‘... offers a collections of video or audio programs ...’
‘Texts need to written ... and audio need to be recorded.’
‘... is assumed to be constitute “interactive narrative.”’
this article was interesting.
What is the relationship
•Database is defined as a structured
collection of data.
•Organised for fast search and retrieval
by a computer.
•Anything but a simple collection of
•Different types of databases:
•All use different methods to organise data.
•Collections of items where user can
view, navigate, and search.
•Both articles talked about the world
and life as a database, archiving life.
•Multimedia works with ‘cultural’
aspects favour database form.
•Database as a form flourished on the
•Web offers fertile ground – three
dimensional and interactive.
•Not all new media are databases –
computer games as narrative.
•Is data passive, algorithm active?
•Not quite true – data needs to be
•Reality > Media > Data > Database
•Every site is a type of database
•The map is now bigger than the
•Database – the world as a list of
items, refuse to put in an order.
•Narrative – creates cause-and-effect
trajectory of seemingly unordered
•Databases have become the centre of
the creative process in the computer
•User of a narrative is traversing a
•Arbitrary sequence of database records
is not a narrative.
•Database and narrative don’t have
same status in computer culture.
•New media objects are all
•A database can support narrative.
Bartlett, Thomas (2007), ‘Archive Fever’ in The Chronicle of Higher Education
(online). Volume 53, Issue 46, Page A8, 20 July 2007. Available:
http://chronicle.com/free/v53/i46/46a00801.htm [Accessed 24 April 2009].
Derrida, Jacques (1995). Archive Fever: A Freudian
Impression, Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
Hacking, Ian (1995). Rewriting the Soul, New Jersey, Princeton University
MIT Press article on Memory Practices in the Sciences. Available:
[Accessed 26 April 2009].
Wikipedia article on APIs (mentioned in Bowker). Available:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/API [Accessed 27 April 2009].
Ford, Paul (2006), ‘Privacy in Cyberspace: Is it Possible?’ on National Public
Radio America (online), 20 January 2006. Available:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5165536 [Accessed 18