Virtual Witnessing in a Virtual Age: A Prospectus for Social Studies of E-Science

Virtual Witnessing in a Virtual Age: A Prospectus for Social Studies of E-Science

Steve Woolgar (University of Oxford, UK) and Catelijne Coopmans (Imperial College London, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-717-1.ch001
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Abstract

Despite a substantial unfolding investment in Grid technologies (for the development of cyberinfrastructures or e-science), little is known about how, why and by whom these new technologies are being adopted or will be taken up. This chapter argues for the importance of addressing these questions from an STS (science and technology studies) perspective, which develops and maintains a working scepticism with respect to the claims and attributions of scientific and technical capacity. We identify three interconnected topics with particular salience for Grid technologies: data, networks, and accountability. The chapter provides an illustration of howthese topics might be approached from an STS perspective, by revisiting the idea of “virtual witnessing”—a key idea in understanding the early emergence of criteria of adequacy in experiments and demonstrations at the birth of modern science—and by drawing upon preliminary interviews with prospective scientist users of Grid technologies. The chapter concludes that, against the temptation to represent the effects of new technologies on the growth of scientific knowledge as straightforward and determinate, e-scientists are immersed in structures of interlocking accountabilities which leave the effects uncertain.

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Table of Contents
Foreword
Tony Hey
Preface
Christine Hine
Acknowledgements
Christine Hine
Chapter 1
Steve Woolgar, Catelijne Coopmans
Despite a substantial unfolding investment in Grid technologies (for the development of cyberinfrastructures or e-science), little is known about... Sample PDF
Virtual Witnessing in a Virtual Age: A Prospectus for Social Studies of E-Science
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Chapter 2
Christine Hine
This chapter examines some of the factors which help to create a momentum for developing new infrastructures for scientific research. Specifically... Sample PDF
Computerization Movements and Scientific Disciplines: The Reflexive Potential of New Technologies
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Chapter 3
Paul Wouters, Anne Beaulieu
This chapter problematizes the relation between the varied modes of knowledge production in the sciences and humanities, and the assumptions... Sample PDF
Imagining E-Science beyond Computation
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Chapter 4
Katie Vann, Geoffrey C. Bowker
The chapter locates the organization of the technology-bearing labor process as an important object of STS/ e-science research. Prospective... Sample PDF
Interest in Production: On the Configuration of Technology-Bearing Labors for Epistemic IT
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Chapter 5
Martina Merz
This chapter introduces the notion of a “disunity of e-science:” It posits that different epistemic cultures privilege different forms of digital... Sample PDF
Embedding Digital Infrastructure in Epistemic Culture
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Chapter 6
Beate Elvebakk
The chapter is based on interviews with a group of university scientists in the Department of Chemistry, University of Oslo. It seeks to lay bare... Sample PDF
Networks of Objects: Practical Preconditions for Electronic Communication
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Chapter 7
Caroline Haythornthwaite, Karen J. Lunsford, Geoffrey C. Bowker, Bertram C. Bruce
As private sector and government research increasingly depends on the use of distributed, interdisciplinary and collaborative teams, particularly in... Sample PDF
Challenges for Research and Practice in Distributed, Interdisciplinary Collaboration
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Chapter 8
Jenny Fry
This chapter speaks to the heterogeneity of research practices in science. It explores how cultural differences within and across disciplines shape... Sample PDF
Coordinatiion and Crontrol of Research Practice across Scientific Fields: Implications for a Differentiatied E-Science
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Chapter 9
Michael Nentwich
This chapter deals with the future of scholarly publications as a key element of the knowledge production process of science and research.... Sample PDF
Cyberinfrastructure for Next Generation Scholarly Publishing
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Chapter 10
Alexandre Caldas
This chapter analyses the web as a complex system of interactions bridging online and offline communities in open science in order to discuss the... Sample PDF
On Web Structure and Digital Knowledge Bases: Online and Offline Connections in Science
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Chapter 11
Franz Barjak
This chapter investigates whether the internet has improved information access for scientists who did not participate fully in the transfer of... Sample PDF
From the "Analogue Divide" to the "Hybrid Divide": The Internet Does Not Ensure Equality of Access to Information in Science
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Chapter 12
Antony Palackal, Meredith Anderson, B. Paige Miller, Wesley Shrum
Can the internet improve the lot of women in the developing world? This study investigates the degree to which the internet affects the constraints... Sample PDF
Gender Stratification and E-Science: Can the Internet Circumvent Patrifocality?
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About the Authors