By Geoffrey C. Bowker
Winner, 2007 Ludwig Fleck Prize given by way of the Society for Social reviews of technological know-how (4S). and presented "Best details technological know-how e-book 2006" through the yank Society for info technology and expertise (ASIS&T).
The method we list wisdom, and the internet of technical, formal, and social practices that surrounds it, necessarily impacts the data that we checklist. The methods we carry wisdom concerning the past—in handwritten manuscripts, in revealed books, in dossier folders, in databases—shape the type of tales we inform approximately that previous. during this full of life and erudite examine the relation of our info infrastructures to our details, Geoffrey Bowker examines how, during the last 2 hundred years, info expertise has converged with the character and creation of medical wisdom. His tale weaves a direction among the social and political paintings of making an particular, indexical reminiscence for science—the making of infrastructures—and the range of how we consistently reconfigure, lose, and regain the past.
At a time whilst reminiscence is so reasonable and its recording is so protean, Bowker reminds us of the centrality of what and the way we elect to fail to remember. In Memory Practices within the Sciences he appears to be like at 3 "memory epochs" of the 19th, 20th, and twenty-first centuries and their specific reconstructions and reconfigurations of clinical wisdom. The 19th century's vital technology, geology, mapped either the social and the flora and fauna right into a unmarried time package deal (despite obvious discontinuities), as, otherwise, did mid-twentieth-century cybernetics. either, Bowker argues, packaged time in methods listed by way of their details applied sciences to allow site visitors among the social and typical worlds. contemporary sciences of biodiversity, in the meantime, "database the area" in a manner that excludes convinced areas, entities, and instances. We use the instruments of the current to examine the earlier, says Bowker; we undertaking onto nature our modes of organizing our personal affairs.
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Extra info for Memory Practices in the Sciences
These remain real boundaries, however, in two ways. First, every act of migration across media is a conscious act in the present: unless there is a contemporary constituency for a book, for example, it will not find its way onto the Web. Most never make it across—just as, in small, most government archives never make it across a new filing system. Second, the migration itself changes the document: a given rendering of The Odyssey could only become definitive with the new medium of print—it was highly “fluid”; a sprawling nineteenth-century novel can be read in new ways in electronic form, where we can create automatic concordances and character searches on the fly.
Sue’s story weaves its way through these three memory registers, exploring in beautiful detail the features and fragrances of each. • Ahasuerus’s goal is sweet oblivion—a rest from his tireless, endless state of consciousness and the memories that assail him. When justice has been done— when his line becomes extinct through the cruelty of the Jesuits—then Christ releases him (betimes) from his curse. The theme is a common one; we have seen in the West the development of a trope that when justice has been done the aborigines in Australia or the Native Americans and African Americans in the United States, through an act of apology, then the past can be laid to rest.
We often don’t think of such trails in memory terms, because it is not our own personal memory that is being engraved—it is the collective memory of our culture. We operate such changes a fortiori in the built envi ronment. If you* visit a Catholic church, you don’t have to remember the order of the Stations of the Cross. They are laid out for you in a standard fashion. Our reorderings can be evanescent. I constantly litter my morning path with objects that I want to remember to take to work—books to go to work in a pile next to the bathroom; clothes for dry cleaning on the hood of my car; things I really must do today on my computer keyboard.
Memory Practices in the Sciences by Geoffrey C. Bowker