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is a nascent initiative for the ocean sciences based at UCSD Scripps Institution of Oceanography that aims at providing a set of resources including shared scientific data and a design environment for learning, tool sharing and participatory design (Baker et al, 2005).

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is a nascent initiative for the ocean sciences based at UCSD Scripps Institution of Oceanography that aims at providing a set of resources including shared scientific data and a design environment for learning, tool sharing and participatory design (Baker et al, 2005).

Elements of Social Science Engagement

in Information Infrastructure Design

David Ribes

Sociology/Science Studies

University of California, San Diego

La Jolla, CA 92093, USA

1.858.534.4627

dribes@ucsd.edu

Karen S. Baker

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

University of California, San Diego

La Jolla, CA 92093 USA

1.858.534.2350

kbaker@ucsd.edu

http://interoperability.ucsd.edu

Research Question Argument

Social Dimensions Feedback

is a cyberinfrastructure for the US geo-sciences aimed at providing scientific data and resource sharing services to a broad range of disciplines to ensure a more integrated picture of earth processes (Keller, 2003).

We study three infrastructure building projects with social science participants. We ask, how does the organization of these collaborations inform the possibilities for social science contributions?

In this poster we focus on two of these engagements.

A new space for social science is opening within large-scale technical design projects. This represents an opportunity for social science researchers to participate not only as observers but also as project contributors in the creation of collaboratories, standards, metadata languages, ontologies, ‘best practices,’ and other design and implementation work.

Social scientists can participate in a role providing ‘social dimensions feedback’ through ethnographic or documentary research on the practices of infrastructure building. This can include analysis of features such as ‘culture,’ ‘communication,’ ‘organizational structure’ and ‘community building.’ In this role social scientists serve primarily as a type of consultant providing occasional and targeted feedback. We argue that in this model it is crucial to design venues for feedback if intervention is to be meaningful.

Interventions are not simply acts upon the subjects of research but are bidirectional and in turn sources for the development of new knowledge.

‘Intervention’, ‘collaboration’ and ‘participation’: within projects the engagement and contribution of the analyst to the field of action itself remains an under-explored topic.

Network Propagation Model of Communication and Co-Ordination

In network propagation a social scientist is embedded within an already existing framework of communication and co-ordination. For example LTER was established to enable collaboration of heterogeneous scientists and ensure the preservation of data in the long term; social scientists were able to ‘plug into’ this network to establish new collaborations, conduct research and disseminate finding.. Existing paths of communication include, but are not limited to: newsletters, email lists, informal ties, and wikis or blogs. We argue that in this model it is crucial to ‘speak the language’ and learn conventions of the existing network.

is a federated network of biome sites with an information infrastructure for ecological sciences that aims at enabling inter-disciplinary collaboration and preserving data for the long-term (Hobbie et al., 2003).

Analytic Resources

Comparative Interoperability Project 2004-2007

The Comparative Interoperability Project initiates a situated social and organizational comparison of three scientific information infrastructures deploying different approaches to data interoperability. We consider interoperability strategies as specificconfigurations of technical commitment, community involvement, and organizational structure.

We take the argument of emergence very seriously: the elements which we have defined here are analytic resources rather than causal factors. They have assisted us in understanding how to meaningfully contribute to the infrastructure projects.

References

* Baker, K.S., Ecological Design: An Interdisciplinary, Interactive Participation Process in an Information Environment. in Proceedings of the Workshop on Requirements Capture for Collaboration in e-Science, January 14-15, (Edinburgh, 2004), 5-7.

* Fountain, J.E. Building the Virtual State: Information Technology and Institutional Change. Brookings InstitutionPress, Washington, D.C., 2001.

* Jackson, S.J. and Baker, K.S. Ecological Design, Collaborative Care, and Ocean Informatics. Proceedings of the

Participatory Design Conference, Toronto.

* Kling, R. What is Social Informatics and Why Does it Matter? D-Lib Magazine, 5 (1). 1-23.

* Ribes, D., Baker, K.S., Millerand, F. and Bowker, G.C. Comparative Interoperability Project: Configurations of

Community, Technology, Organization. Proceedings of the Second ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conference on Digital Libraries.

International Conference on Digital Government Research

DGO May 21-24, 2006

San Diego, CA

SSHRC

CRSH


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