Geoffrey C. Bowker

Geoffrey C. Bowker is Professor and Director of the Evoke Lab at the University of California, Irvine. He is the coauthor (with Susan Leigh Star) of Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences and the author of Memory Practices in the Sciences, both published by the MIT Press.

  • Boundary Objects and Beyond

    Boundary Objects and Beyond

    Working with Leigh Star

    Geoffrey C. Bowker, Stefan Timmermans, Adele E. Clarke, and Ellen Balka

    The multifaceted work of the late Susan Leigh Star is explored through a selection of her writings and essays by friends and colleagues.

    Susan Leigh Star (1954–2010) was one of the most influential science studies scholars of the last several decades. In her work, Star highlighted the messy practices of discovering science, asking hard questions about the marginalizing as well as the liberating powers of science and technology. In the landmark work Sorting Things Out, Star and Geoffrey Bowker revealed the social and ethical histories that are deeply embedded in classification systems. Star's most celebrated concept was the notion of boundary objects: representational forms—things or theories—that can be shared between different communities, with each holding its own understanding of the representation.

    Unfortunately, Leigh was unable to complete a work on the poetics of infrastructure that further developed the full range of her work. This volume collects articles by Star that set out some of her thinking on boundary objects, marginality, and infrastructure, together with essays by friends and colleagues from a range of disciplines—from philosophy of science to organization science—that testify to the wide-ranging influence of Star's work.

    ContributorsEllen Balka, Eevi E. Beck, Dick Boland, Geoffrey C. Bowker, Janet Ceja Alcalá, Adele E. Clarke, Les Gasser, James R. Griesemer, Gail Hornstein, John Leslie King, Cheris Kramarae, Maria Puig de la Bellacasa, Karen Ruhleder, Kjeld Schmidt, Brian Cantwell Smith, Susan Leigh Star, Anselm L. Strauss, Jane Summerton, Stefan Timmermans, Helen Verran, Nina Wakeford, Jutta Weber

    • Hardcover $85.00
    • Paperback $40.00
  • Memory Practices in the Sciences

    Memory Practices in the Sciences

    Geoffrey C. Bowker

    How the way we hold knowledge about the past—in books, in file folders, in databases—affects the kind of stories we tell about the past.

    The way we record knowledge, and the web of technical, formal, and social practices that surrounds it, inevitably affects the knowledge that we record. The ways we hold knowledge about the past—in handwritten manuscripts, in printed books, in file folders, in databases—shape the kind of stories we tell about that past. In this lively and erudite look at the relation of our information infrastructures to our information, Geoffrey Bowker examines how, over the past two hundred years, information technology has converged with the nature and production of scientific knowledge. His story weaves a path between the social and political work of creating an explicit, indexical memory for science—the making of infrastructures—and the variety of ways we continually reconfigure, lose, and regain the past.

    At a time when memory is so cheap and its recording is so protean, Bowker reminds us of the centrality of what and how we choose to forget. In Memory Practices in the Sciences he looks at three "memory epochs" of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries and their particular reconstructions and reconfigurations of scientific knowledge. The nineteenth century's central science, geology, mapped both the social and the natural world into a single time package (despite apparent discontinuities), as, in a different way, did mid-twentieth-century cybernetics. Both, Bowker argues, packaged time in ways indexed by their information technologies to permit traffic between the social and natural worlds. Today's sciences of biodiversity, meanwhile, "database the world" in a way that excludes certain spaces, entities, and times. We use the tools of the present to look at the past, says Bowker; we project onto nature our modes of organizing our own affairs.

    • Hardcover $34.95
    • Paperback $25.00
  • Sorting Things Out

    Sorting Things Out

    Classification and Its Consequences

    Geoffrey C. Bowker and Susan Leigh Star

    A revealing and surprising look at how classification systems can shape both worldviews and social interactions.

    What do a seventeenth-century mortality table (whose causes of death include "fainted in a bath," "frighted," and "itch"); the identification of South Africans during apartheid as European, Asian, colored, or black; and the separation of machine- from hand-washables have in common? All are examples of classification—the scaffolding of information infrastructures.

    In Sorting Things Out, Geoffrey C. Bowker and Susan Leigh Star explore the role of categories and standards in shaping the modern world. In a clear and lively style, they investigate a variety of classification systems, including the International Classification of Diseases, the Nursing Interventions Classification, race classification under apartheid in South Africa, and the classification of viruses and of tuberculosis.

    The authors emphasize the role of invisibility in the process by which classification orders human interaction. They examine how categories are made and kept invisible, and how people can change this invisibility when necessary. They also explore systems of classification as part of the built information environment. Much as an urban historian would review highway permits and zoning decisions to tell a city's story, the authors review archives of classification design to understand how decisions have been made. Sorting Things Out has a moral agenda, for each standard and category valorizes some point of view and silences another. Standards and classifications produce advantage or suffering. Jobs are made and lost; some regions benefit at the expense of others. How these choices are made and how we think about that process are at the moral and political core of this work. The book is an important empirical source for understanding the building of information infrastructures.

    • Hardcover $13.75
    • Paperback $35.00
  • Science on the Run

    Science on the Run

    Information Management and Industrial Geophysics at Schlumberger, 1920-1940

    Geoffrey C. Bowker

    In this engaging account, Geoffrey Bowker reveals how Schlumberger devised a method of testing potential oil fields, produced a rhetoric, and secured a position that allowed it to manipulate the definition of what a technology is.

    This is the story of how one company created and codified a new science "on the run," away from the confines of the laboratory. By construing its service as scientific, Schlumberger was able to get the edge on the competition and construct an enviable niche for itself in a fast-growing industry.In this engaging account, Geoffrey Bowker reveals how Schlumberger devised a method of testing potential oil fields, produced a rhetoric, and secured a position that allowed it to manipulate the definition of what a technology is. Bowker calls the heart of the story "The Two Measurements That Worked," and he renders it in the style of a myth. In so doing, he shows seamlessly how society becomes embedded even in that most basic and seemingly value-independent of scientific concepts: the measurement.Bowker describes the origins and peregrinations of Schlumberger, details the ways in which the science developed in the field was translated into a form that could be defended in a patent court, and analyzes the company's strategies within the broader context of industrial science.Inside Technology series

    • Hardcover $8.75

Contributor

  • Art, Science, and the Politics of Knowledge

    Art, Science, and the Politics of Knowledge

    Hannah Star Rogers

    How the tools of STS can be used to understand art and science and the practices of these knowledge-making communities.

    In Art, Science, and the Politics of Knowledge, Hannah Star Rogers suggests that art and science are not as different from each other as we might assume. She shows how the tools of science and technology studies (STS) can be applied to artistic practice, offering new ways of thinking about people and objects that have largely fallen outside the scope of STS research. Arguing that the categories of art and science are labels with specific powers to order social worlds—and that art and science are best understood as networks that produce knowledge—Rogers shows, through a series of cases, the similarities and overlapping practices of these knowledge communities.

    The cases, which range from nineteenth-century artisans to contemporary bioartists, illustrate how art can provide the basis for a new subdiscipline called art, science, and technology studies (ASTS), offering hybrid tools for investigating art–science collaborations. Rogers's subjects include the work of father and son glassblowers, the Blaschkas, whose glass models, produced in the nineteenth century for use in biological classification, are now displayed as works of art; the physics photographs of documentary photographer Berenice Abbott; and a bioart lab that produces work functioning as both artwork and scientific output. Finally, Rogers, an STS scholar and contemporary art–science curator, draws on her own work to consider the concept of curation as a form of critical analysis.

    • Paperback $50.00
  • The Constitution of Algorithms

    The Constitution of Algorithms

    Ground-Truthing, Programming, Formulating

    Florian Jaton

    A laboratory study that investigates how algorithms come into existence.

    Algorithms—often associated with the terms big data, machine learning, or artificial intelligence—underlie the technologies we use every day, and disputes over the consequences, actual or potential, of new algorithms arise regularly. In this book, Florian Jaton offers a new way to study computerized methods, providing an account of where algorithms come from and how they are constituted, investigating the practical activities by which algorithms are progressively assembled rather than what they may suggest or require once they are assembled.

    Drawing on a four-year ethnographic study of a computer science laboratory that specialized in digital image processing, Jaton illuminates the invisible processes that are behind the development of algorithms. Tracing what he terms a set of intertwining courses of actions sharing common finalities, he describes the practical activity of creating algorithms through the lenses of ground-truthing, programming, and formulating. He first presents the building of ground truths, referential repositories that form the material basis for algorithms. Then, after considering programming's resistance to ethnographic scrutiny, he describes programming courses of action he attended at the laboratory. Finally, he offers an account of courses of action that successfully formulated some of the relationships among the data of a ground-truth database, revealing the links between ground-truthing, programming, and formulating activities—entangled processes that lead to the shaping of algorithms. In practice, ground-truthing, programming, and formulating form a whirlwind process, an emergent and intertwined agency.

    The open access edition of this book was made possible by generous funding from Arcadia – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.

    • Paperback $60.00
  • The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, Fourth Edition

    The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, Fourth Edition

    Ulrike Felt, Rayvon Fouché, Clark A. Miller, and Laurel Smith-Doerr

    The fourth edition of an authoritative overview, with all new chapters that capture the state of the art in a rapidly growing field.

    Science and Technology Studies (STS) is a flourishing interdisciplinary field that examines the transformative power of science and technology to arrange and rearrange contemporary societies. The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies provides a comprehensive and authoritative overview of the field, reviewing current research and major theoretical and methodological approaches in a way that is accessible to both new and established scholars from a range of disciplines. This new edition, sponsored by the Society for Social Studies of Science, is the fourth in a series of volumes that have defined the field of STS. It features 36 chapters, each written for the fourth edition, that capture the state of the art in a rich and rapidly growing field. One especially notable development is the increasing integration of feminist, gender, and postcolonial studies into the body of STS knowledge.

    The book covers methods and participatory practices in STS research; mechanisms by which knowledge, people, and societies are coproduced; the design, construction, and use of material devices and infrastructures; the organization and governance of science; and STS and societal challenges including aging, agriculture, security, disasters, environmental justice, and climate change.

    • Hardcover $75.00
  • Quantified

    Quantified

    Biosensing Technologies in Everyday Life

    Dawn Nafus

    What is at stake socially, culturally, politically, and economically when we routinely use technology to gather information about our bodies and environments?

    Today anyone can purchase technology that can track, quantify, and measure the body and its environment. Wearable or portable sensors detect heart rates, glucose levels, steps taken, water quality, genomes, and microbiomes, and turn them into electronic data. Is this phenomenon empowering, or a new form of social control? Who volunteers to enumerate bodily experiences, and who is forced to do so? Who interprets the resulting data? How does all this affect the relationship between medical practice and self care, between scientific and lay knowledge? Quantified examines these and other issues that arise when biosensing technologies become part of everyday life.

    The book offers a range of perspectives, with views from the social sciences, cultural studies, journalism, industry, and the nonprofit world. The contributors consider data, personhood, and the urge to self-quantify; legal, commercial, and medical issues, including privacy, the outsourcing of medical advice, and self-tracking as a “paraclinical” practice; and technical concerns, including interoperability, sociotechnical calibration, alternative views of data, and new space for design.

    ContributorsMarc Böhlen, Geoffrey C. Bowker, Sophie Day, Anna de Paula Hanika, Deborah Estrin, Brittany Fiore-Gartland, Dana Greenfield, Judith Gregory, Mette Kragh-Furbo, Celia Lury, Adrian Mackenzie, Rajiv Mehta, Maggie Mort, Dawn Nafus, Gina Neff, Helen Nissenbaum, Heather Patterson, Celia Roberts, Jamie Sherman, Alex Taylor, Gary Wolf

    • Hardcover $9.75
    • Paperback $30.00
  • Media Technologies

    Media Technologies

    Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society

    Tarleton Gillespie, Pablo J. Boczkowski, and Kirsten A. Foot

    Scholars from communication and media studies join those from science and technology studies to examine media technologies as complex, sociomaterial phenomena.

    In recent years, scholarship around media technologies has finally shed the assumption that these technologies are separate from and powerfully determining of social life, looking at them instead as produced by and embedded in distinct social, cultural, and political practices. Communication and media scholars have increasingly taken theoretical perspectives originating in science and technology studies (STS), while some STS scholars interested in information technologies have linked their research to media studies inquiries into the symbolic dimensions of these tools. In this volume, scholars from both fields come together to advance this view of media technologies as complex sociomaterial phenomena.

    The contributors first address the relationship between materiality and mediation, considering such topics as the lived realities of network infrastructure. The contributors then highlight media technologies as always in motion, held together through the minute, unobserved work of many, including efforts to keep these technologies alive.

    ContributorsPablo J. Boczkowski, Geoffrey C. Bowker, Finn Brunton, Gabriella Coleman, Gregory J. Downey, Kirsten A. Foot, Tarleton Gillespie, Steven J. Jackson, Christopher M. Kelty, Leah A. Lievrouw, Sonia Livingstone, Ignacio Siles, Jonathan Sterne, Lucy Suchman, Fred Turner

    • Paperback $40.00
  • "Raw Data" Is an Oxymoron

    "Raw Data" Is an Oxymoron

    Lisa Gitelman

    Episodes in the history of data, from early modern math problems to today's inescapable “dataveillance,” that demonstrate the dependence of data on culture.

    We live in the era of Big Data, with storage and transmission capacity measured not just in terabytes but in petabytes (where peta- denotes a quadrillion, or a thousand trillion). Data collection is constant and even insidious, with every click and every “like” stored somewhere for something. This book reminds us that data is anything but “raw,” that we shouldn't think of data as a natural resource but as a cultural one that needs to be generated, protected, and interpreted. The book's essays describe eight episodes in the history of data from the predigital to the digital. Together they address such issues as the ways that different kinds of data and different domains of inquiry are mutually defining; how data are variously “cooked” in the processes of their collection and use; and conflicts over what can—or can't—be “reduced” to data. Contributors discuss the intellectual history of data as a concept; describe early financial modeling and some unusual sources for astronomical data; discover the prehistory of the database in newspaper clippings and index cards; and consider contemporary “dataveillance” of our online habits as well as the complexity of scientific data curation.

    Essay AuthorsGeoffrey C. Bowker, Kevin R. Brine, Ellen Gruber Garvey, Lisa Gitelman, Steven J. Jackson, Virginia Jackson, Markus Krajewski, Mary Poovey, Rita Raley, David Ribes, Daniel Rosenberg, Matthew Stanley, Travis D. Williams

    • Paperback $40.00
  • World Wide Research

    World Wide Research

    Reshaping the Sciences and Humanities

    William H. Dutton and Paul W. Jeffreys

    Experts examine ways in which the use of increasingly powerful and versatile digital information and communication technologies are transforming research activities across all disciplines.

    Advances in information and communication technology are transforming the way scholarly research is conducted across all disciplines. The use of increasingly powerful and versatile computer-based and networked systems promises to change research activity as profoundly as the mobile phone, the Internet, and email have changed everyday life. This book offers a comprehensive and accessible view of the use of these new approaches—called “e-Research”—and their ethical, legal, and institutional implications. The contributors, leading scholars from a range of disciplines, focus on how e-Research is reshaping not only how research is done but also, and more important, its outcomes. By anchoring their discussion in specific examples and case studies, they identify and analyze a promising set of practical developments and results associated with e-Research innovations. The contributors, who include Geoffrey Bowker, Christine Borgman, Paul Edwards, Tim Berners-Lee, and Hal Abelson, explain why and how e-Research activity can reconfigure access to networks of information, expertise, and experience, changing what researchers observe, with whom they collaborate, how they share information, what methods they use to report their findings, and what knowledge is required to do this. They discuss both the means of e-Research (new research-centered computational networks) and its purpose (to improve the quality of world-wide research).

    • Hardcover $14.75
    • Paperback $35.00
  • Scientific Collaboration on the Internet

    Scientific Collaboration on the Internet

    Gary M. Olson, Ann Zimmerman, and Nathan Bos

    The challenges and rewards of scientific collaboration enabled by information and communication technology, from theoretical approaches to in-depth case studies.

    Modern science is increasingly collaborative, as signaled by rising numbers of coauthored papers, papers with international coauthors, and multi-investigator grants. Historically, scientific collaborations were carried out by scientists in the same physical location—the Manhattan Project of the 1940s, for example, involved thousands of scientists gathered on a remote plateau in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Today, information and communication technologies allow cooperation among scientists from far-flung institutions and different disciplines. Scientific Collaboration on the Internet provides both broad and in-depth views of how new technology is enabling novel kinds of science and engineering collaboration. The book offers commentary from notable experts in the field along with case studies of large-scale collaborative projects, past and ongoing. The projects described range from the development of a national virtual observatory for astronomical research to a National Institutes of Health funding program for major multi-laboratory medical research; from the deployment of a cyberinfrastructure to connect experts in earthquake engineering to partnerships between developed and developing countries in AIDS research. The chapter authors speak frankly about the problems these projects encountered as well as the successes they achieved. The book strikes a useful balance between presenting the real stories of collaborations and developing a scientific approach to conceiving, designing, implementing, and evaluating such projects. It points to a future of scientific collaborations that build successfully on aspects from multiple disciplines.

    ContributorsMark S. Ackerman, Paul Avery, Matthew Bietz, Jeremy P. Birnholtz, Nathan Bos, Geoffrey C. Bowker, Randal Butler, David Conz, Eric Cook, Dan Cooney, Jonathon Cummings, Erik Dahl, Mark Ellisman, Ixchel Faniel, Thomas A. Finholt, Ian Foster, Jeffrey S. Grethe, Edward J. Hackett, Robert J. Hanisch, Libby Hemphill, Tony Hey, Erik C. Hofer, Mark James, Carl Kessleman, Sara Kiesler, Timothy L. Killeen, Airong Luo, Kelly L. Maglaughlin, Doru Marcusiu, Shawn McKee, William K. Michener, James D. Myers, Marsha Naidoo, Michael Nentwich, Gary M. Olson, Judith S. Olson, James Onken, Andrew Parker, John N. Parker, Mary Puetz, David Ribes, Kathleen Ricker, Diana Rhoten, Michael E. Rogers, Titus Schleyer, Diane H. Sonnenwald, B. F. Spencer, Jr., Stephanie D. Teasley, Anne Trefethen, Robert B. Waide, Mary C. Whitton, William Wulf, Jason Yerkie, Ann Zimmerman

    • Hardcover $47.00