CSE268D: Social Aspects of Technolgy and Science
Class Discussions
Class members are invited to contribute links and other information (to me by email). Please format your message in HTML. Some of the best messages are given below:

  1. From ppuzon (ppuzon@sdcc10.ucsd.edu), Thu, 01 Oct 1998 09:22:06 -0700:
    Dear Professor Goguen,
    I have a question regarding yesterday's lecture. In your hierarchical spectrum of subjects that you used as an example to explain causal relations, where would biophysics be located? As I recall, you had chemistry between biology and physics.

    To which I replied:
    If your point is that this isnt necessarily purely hierarchical, then i agree with you; please mention this in class next time. Also please look at the lecture notes to see what the main points are.

  2. From: "Amit Asaravala" (amit@ucsd.edu), Thu, 15 Oct 1998 21:00:22 -0700

    I just read this article on the Web (http://nt.excite.com/news/r/981015/17/odd-keyboard) and it made me think of our discussions in class and how technology can often do more worse than good. I hope you find the article as humorous as I did. Perhaps this is a good example of terrible user interface design?

    PARIS (Reuters) - Electronic trading may be cheap, but leaning on the keyboard
    can be costly.  A mystery plunge in the value of French 10-year bond futures
    on July 23 was triggered by a bank trader at Salomon Brothers in London who
    accidentally and repeatedly hit the "Instant Sell" button, investigators said
    A wave of 145 separate sell orders sent the price diving on electronic
    "The disputed trades arose as a result of the prolonged, unintentional and
    inadvertent operation of the 'Instant Sell' key," said an investigation by
    computer software firm Cap Gemini and security group Kroll Associates.
    Salomon Brothers declined to comment on any losses.
    See you in class on Wednesday,

  3. Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 10:21:27 -0800 (PST)
    To: program@helix.ucsd.edu
    Subject: Science Studies Colloquium, Monday, Nov. 2--Adrian Johns
    This Monday, November 2, 1998, UCSD Science Studies Colloquium
    "Transmuting the Self: The Power of Reading and the Practice of Magic,
    UC San Diego
    Department of Sociology
    Room 3009
    for additional info, contact the Science Studies office (see below)
  4. From Kevin Streeter, Sun, 1 Nov 1998 21:05:08 -0800
    Prof. Goguen, I know you're a fan of Amazon (me, too!), so heres a link...
    Amazon.com: Fleck, Ludwik, Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact
    This copy is interesting because it has a forward by Thomas Kuhn, in which he
    makes a (suspiciously?) explicit denial of having been significantly
    influenced by this book, although he does admit to have read it before
    publishing _The Structure of a Scientific Revolution_.

  5. Star and Bowker are visiting 14-18 November!
    Representation and Erasure:  Classification and Organizational Memory
    Geoffrey C. Bowker
    Associate Professor
    Graduate School of Library & Information Science
    University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana
    WHEN:	Monday, November 16, 1998
    WHERE:	Media Center/Communication Building
    		The Herbert I. Schiller Room 201 
    TIME:	12:30-2:00pm
    Formal classification systems are a large part of organizational
    communication, organizational memory, and of the infrastructure for knowledge
    work.  Building on earlier work on the development of knowledge
    infrastructures (Bowker, 1994), this paper analyzes classifications of nursing
    work, viruses and plants in order to explore these social and organizational
    features of classification systems.  The argument is made that classification
    systems provide means of storing both domain information and information about
    organizational work.  In particular, they represent dynamic compromises
    between different groups within and between organizations.  At times, these
    compromises mean that some voices are silenced and others privileged within
    formal classifications.  The paper looks at the ecology of forgetting and
    remembering within the classification systems discussed, arguing that what is
    forgotten (and how the forgetting is done) can be just as important to the
    organization as what is remembered (Bowker, 1997).  Finally, taking the
    example of the field of biodiversity information, some implications are drawn
    for the development of large scale distributed information systems.
    Bowker, 1994.  Geoffrey C. Bowker, Science on the Run: Information Management
    and Industrial Geophysics at Schlumberger, 1920-1940.  Cambridge, MA: MIT
    Bowker, 1997. Lest We Remember: Organizational Forgetting and the Production
    of Knowledge, in Accounting, Management and Information Technology, 7 (3)
    1997: 113-138.
    A Good Infrastructure is Hard to Find: The Design and Politics of Large Scale Knowledge Systems S. Leigh Star Professor Graduate School of Library & Information Science University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana WHEN: Wednesday, November 18, 1998 WHERE: Media Center/Communication Building The Herbert I. Schiller Room 201 TIME: 12:30-2:00pm In the early days of science studies, detailed empirical studies led researchers to focus on processes of knowledge discovery and scientific practice. Some of the important foci included the use of tools, the standardization of research materials, and an analysis of how groups with divergent persepctives cooperate. For the latter, my model of `boundary objects' provided an model of cooperation without consensus (Star and Griesemer, 1989). In recent years, the infrastructural aspects of these questions have come to the fore. How do the relatively invisible aspects of knowledge work (such as classifications, standards, specficiations, and forms) subtend the work of science and technology? How does infrastructure mediate distributed knowledge? This talk gives an overview of the issues as they have developed from my ethnographic and historical work on life scientists, medicine, South African apartheid, and with systems developers (Bowker and Star, in press). There are often inequities or gaps in communication about the design or use of infrastructure. These `quiet politics of voice,' while they are crucial for social justice, too rarely come to the level of public policy (Star and Strauss, 1999). Thus, the analysis of infrastructure represents a fertile domain for the investigation of the impact of information technology on everyday life. References: Geoffrey C. Bowker and Susan Leigh Star. In press. Sorting Things Out: Classification and Practice. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Susan Leigh Star and James Griesemer, Institutional Ecology, Translations, and Coherence: Amateurs and Professionals in Berkeleys Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, 1907-1939, Social Studies of Science, 19:387-420 (1989) Susan Leigh Star and Anselm Strauss. 1999. Layers of Silence, Arenas of Voice: The Ecology of Visible and Invisible Work, Computer-Supported Cooperative Work: The Journal of Collaborative Computing, 8:9-30

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Last modified 18 November 1998