Week 8 DRP sem 2 09


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Bowker argues that databases influence our thinking by its classification and labels

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Week 8 DRP sem 2 09

  1. 1. Databasing the World: Biodiversity and the 2000s a book chapter of Memory Practices in the Sciences by Geoffrey C. Bowker
  2. 2. Main Points of the Reading <ul><li>Memory Practices </li></ul><ul><li>The Practice of Databasing the World: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Infrastructure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Data Ownership </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sharing Data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>International Technoscience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Collaborative Works </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accounting for Life </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Conclusion </li></ul>
  3. 3. Memory Practice <ul><li>“ There is enormous power in being able to read the past, to tell the generations” (Bowker 1994), “and we are seeking to colonize the past just as we are seeking to colonize the present” (Bowker 2005). </li></ul><ul><li>Derrida (1996) argues that in order for an archive to exist it must be constructed to live in an external space, “there is no archive without consignation in an external place which assures the possibility of memorization, of repetition, of reproduction, or of reimpression,” </li></ul>
  4. 4. Memory Practice (cont.) <ul><li>Starting with the rise of statistics to the present, memory practices have been organised on massive scales. </li></ul><ul><li>memory practices are materially rampant, invasive, implicated in the core of our being and of our understanding the world </li></ul><ul><li>Examination of archival practices of scientists </li></ul>
  5. 5. The Practice of Databasing the World (1) <ul><li>Potential impacts of of new knowledge economy on science and technology policy </li></ul><ul><li>Building an infrastructure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The need of standardisation and classification </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Working infrastructures standardize both people and machines (e.g statistics) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No guarantee that the best set of standards will win e.g. PC vs Mac, the QWERTY keyboard system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>There is a continuum of strategies for standards setting e.g. Microsoft Windows XP/Vista, ANSI/NISO Z39.50 </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Building Infrastructure (cont.) </li></ul><ul><li>Interoperability is the key </li></ul><ul><li>Challenges on building infrastructure: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Work/ Human Resource e.g. microfiche in library </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><ul><li>Challenges (cont.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2. Stable technology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Changes in database architecture, storage of capabilities of computers, and ingrained organisational practices. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Infrastructure will require a continued maintenance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3. Communication </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The problem of reliable metadata: require different data from various scientific disciplines, deciding how much information that needed and useful for communities </li></ul></ul></ul>
  8. 8. 2. Data Ownership <ul><li>Three main sets of issues of implementing information market: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Control of knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Privacy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pattern of Ownership </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. 3. Sharing Data <ul><li>The database (the information stored) is seen as an end in itself. </li></ul><ul><li>In this new and expanded process of scientific archiving, data must be reusable by scientists. </li></ul><ul><li>Data can be highly problematic since replacement theories do not automatically account for all the data held in the outgoing one. </li></ul><ul><li>Information infrastructures such as databases should be read both discursively and materially. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Sharing Data (cont.) <ul><li>Major difficulties with developing new scientific infrastructures using computers: scientist vs computer scientist </li></ul>
  11. 11. 4. International Technoscience <ul><li>Everyone who has access may be equal citizen, but those without access are left further out of the picture. </li></ul><ul><li>In fact, access is never really equal. </li></ul><ul><li>Second wave of colonialism. </li></ul><ul><li>Gap between information access in different regions. </li></ul>
  12. 12. 5. Collaborative Work <ul><li>Collective or individual work? </li></ul><ul><li>Journal articles as medium for the dissemination and exchange of scientific ideas. </li></ul><ul><li>Standards and protocols. </li></ul>
  13. 13. 6. Accounting for Life <ul><li>Database technology has changed the ways in which classifications can be developed. </li></ul><ul><li>A case of Cladistics </li></ul>
  14. 14. Conclusion <ul><li>Today’s technology leads to collaboration in science, to information sharing and information access beyond anything previously available. The database becomes memory in an analogic way to the rock strata becoming memory. </li></ul><ul><li>An ecology of technological memory practices within the historical sciences is a key site for understanding their framing of the past. </li></ul>