AO: The group looks at phenomena of “contingent connection” to trace the comparative cases over time and space. However, they do not detail how they do this technically.
This historical project is looking at the development of research museums in early twentieth century. So, the technology was all analog. They were essentially building a database, but they had to figure out how to store this data about flora and fauna through technologies of preserving the actual remains of the animals and plants. Grinnell also needed detailed descriptions of the habitat in which the specimens were living at the time they were captured. Otherwise he would not be able to conduct his analysis of the impact of environment on evolution. Thus data negligence, loss, and destruction was a huge obstacle to be overcome through discipline and through technologies of standardization. The standardized methods of data collection, including the stock forms/templates to be filled out, were crucial to ensuring the quality of the data collected. The technology of money was also necessary to enlist the help of trappers, creating the opportunity for market-like exchanges.
Star considers infrastructures to be both essential collaboration as well as inherently limiting the degree to which collaboration is possible. This is ascertainable by looking at the way she thinks about infrastructure’s following characteristics:
_ Embeddedness. Infrastructure is sunk into, inside of, other structures, social arrangements and technologies;
_ Transparency. Infrastructure is transparent to use, in the sense that it does not have to be reinvented each time or assembled for each task, but invisibly supports those tasks;
_ Reach or scope. This may be either spatial or temporal—infrastructure has reach beyond a single event or one-site practice;
_ Learned as part of membership. The taken-for-grantedness of artifacts and organizational arrangements is a sine qua non of membership in a community of practice (Lave and Wenger 1991; Star 1996). Strangers and outsiders encounter infrastructure as a target object to be learned about. New participants acquire a naturalized familiarity with its objects as they become members;
_ Links with conventions of practice. Infrastructure both shapes and is shaped by the conventions of a community of practice, for example, the ways that cycles of day–night work are affected by and affect electrical power rates and needs. Generations of typists have learned the QWERTY keyboard; its limitations are inherited by the computer keyboard and then by the design of today’s computer furniture (Becker 1988);
_ Embodiment of standards. Modified by scope and often by conflicting conventions, infrastructure takes on transparency by plugging into other infrastructures and tools in a standardized fashion.
_ Built on an installed base. Infrastructure does not grow de novo; it wrestles with the inertia of the installed base and inherits strengths and limitations from that base. Optical fibers run along old railroad lines; new systems are designed for backward-compatibility; and failing to account for these constraints may be fatal or distorting to new development processes.
_ Becomes visible upon breakdown. The normally invisible quality of working infrastructure becomes visible when it breaks: the server is down, the bridge washes out, there is a power blackout. Even when there are back-up mechanisms or procedures, their existence further highlights the now-visible infrastructure.
_ Is fixed in modular increments, not all at once or globally. Because infrastructure is big, layered, and complex, and because it means different things locally, it is never changed from above. Changes take time and negotiation and adjustment with other aspects of the systems involved. (Star 2010, 611)
AO: Not mentioned but the creation of numerous journals that touch on econ and psych are noted.
AO: The authors note heavy use of online communication and collaboration tools including Facebook groups, Wiki pages, blogs, email and message groups. (page 50).
AO: The authors note their remote physical distance from those they are engaging with. “We note that our research has been so far conducted remotely. The first author did visit Damascus once in September 2011 and met with several members, however, afterwards the research team has been residing in Switzerland. To triangulate our data under these conditions, we engage in discussions among CTVC members on social media, and we keep in contact with community members to collect their reflections through non-structured conversations (over text-chat and email).”
AO: They write: “Differences in the propensity of countries to collaborate internationally can be explained partly by intellectual influence: The less developed the scientific infrastructure of a given country, the higher the tendency for inter- national coauthorshipcollaboration.We haveoutlinedfurtherreasons forthis trend: With increasing specialization of science, scientists from countries with a small scientific output have to look for collaborative partners abroad; and there is also the need for cost sharing.Nevertheless, there is a large vari- ation in the rates of international coauthorship collaboration between coun- tries, and the relationship between the size of scientific output and the rate of international collaboration is relatively weak.“
AO: They do not discuss this as much but the correspondence was largely only possible because of Internet and email. These are largely like letter correspondence previously (between anthropologists in the field and those “at home”) except now these are via email.
AO: Kenner writes: “The need and desire for digital infrastructure—often seen as a format that can extend the reach of our work—creates opportunities for collaboration with experts from other knowledge domains.” (282)
AO: Internal team information circulation: “ART (global North partner) regularly produces newsletters in an effort to introduce partners to each other, and to keep everyone updated on the work being carried out by colleagues. In the final stage, a project partners’ evaluation meeting and a workshop are scheduled to consolidate contacts and increase opportunities for collaboration.” (1960)