Biodiversity Datadiversity

TitleBiodiversity Datadiversity
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsBowker, Geoffrey C.
JournalSocial Studies of Science
ISSN0306-3127, 1460-3659

Biodiversity is a data-intense science, drawing as it does on data from a large number of disciplines in order to build up a coherent picture of the extent and trajectory of life on earth. This paper argues that as sets of heterogeneous databases are made to converge, there is a layering of values into the emergent infrastructure. It is argued that this layering process is relatively irreversible, and that it operates simultaneously at a very concrete level (fields in a database) and at a very abstract one (the coding of the relationship between the disciplines and the production of a general ontology). Finally, it is maintained that science studies as a discipline is able to (and should) make a significant contribution to the design of robust and flexible databases which recognize this performative character of infrastructure.


'Bowker describes the need for databases that can capture the historicity and context of data - an information infrastructure that is attentive to the conflicts that diverse communities of practice bring to research data. I also find this article important because Bowker makes the argument that you cannot have data without something to store it in - some way to name it.  You cannot have data without some classification system.  This is a limit to information design - similar to that with Cornell describes.\n - poiril'