By Geoffrey C. Bowker
Winner, 2007 Ludwig Fleck Prize given through the Society for Social reports of technology (4S). and offered "Best details technology publication 2006" via the yank Society for info technological know-how and expertise (ASIS&T).
The approach we checklist 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 energetic and erudite examine the relation of our details infrastructures to our info, Geoffrey Bowker examines how, over the last 200 years, info expertise has converged with the character and creation of clinical wisdom. His tale weaves a direction among the social and political paintings of constructing an specific, indexical reminiscence for science—the making of infrastructures—and the diversity of how we regularly 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 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 imperative technological know-how, geology, mapped either the social and the wildlife right into a unmarried time package deal (despite obvious discontinuities), as, differently, did mid-twentieth-century cybernetics. either, Bowker argues, packaged time in methods listed via their info applied sciences to allow site visitors among the social and typical worlds. cutting-edge sciences of biodiversity, in the meantime, "database the realm" in a manner that excludes yes areas, entities, and instances. We use the instruments of the current to examine the previous, says Bowker; we undertaking onto nature our modes of organizing our personal affairs.
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The boundaries between the epochs are rarely clear—Homer’s epics were consigned to writing and then print, Ugaritic texts have made it to the World Wide Web, and the canon of classical Greek literature is on CD-ROM (in the form of the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae). 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.
Cannadine (1992), in a study of British monarchy and the invention of tra dition between 1820 and 1977, points to “an efflorescence of ‘invented’ ritual and tradition in Wilhelmine Germany and the French Third Republic” (103) and to a renewed ceremonial and putatively traditional configuration of the British monarchy in the period between 1870 and 1914, a period when “in London, as in other great cities, monumental, commemorative statues prolif erated” (128). This was also the period of the invention of the Mafia out of a mixture of whole cloth and puppet theater, and of its projection onto a distant past (Fentress and Wickham 1992, 173-199).
If we want to understand memory practices in the sciences or in other spheres, I am suggesting, then we need to look elsewhere. My goal in this book is to begin to trace some delineations of this elsewhere. It is clear from this folding that a lot of our memory practices are about the present: we should not be looking for them in dusty archives. Consider the hrst. This generalizes to the observation that classification systems come into being at the site of a memory trace (a play on Freud’s remark, developed by Benjamin, that “consciousness comes into being at the site of a memory trace” and thus “becoming conscious and leaving behind a memory trace are processes incompatible with each other within one and the same system” (Benjamin and Arendt 1986)).