Leigh Star, Susan. “This Is Not a Boundary Object: Reflections on the Origin of a Concept.” Science, Technology, & Human Values 35, no. 5 (September 2010): 601–17.

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July 3, 2018

Critical Commentary

Abstract: There are three components to boundary objects as outlined in the original 1989 article. Interpretive flexibility, the structure of informatic and work
process needs and arrangements, and, finally, the dynamic between illstructured
and more tailored uses of the objects. Much of the use of the
concept has concentrated on the aspect of interpretive flexibility and has
often mistaken or conflated this flexibility with the process of tacking
back-and-forth between the ill-structured and well-structured aspects of
the arrangements. Boundary objects are not useful at just any level of scale
or without full consideration of the entire model. The article discusses
these aspects of the architecture of boundary objects and includes a discussion
of one of the ways that boundary objects appeared as a concept in earlier
work done by Star. It concludes with methodological considerations
about how to study the system of boundary objects and infrastructure.