The Fog of Data: Long Term Cyberinfrastructure


Date Thursday February 9th 2006
Time 4:00-5:00pm
Venue George E. Pake Auditorium

PARC Forum

The promise of cyberinfrastructure is a root and branch change in the way in which science is done – from data acquisition through data sharing and reuse to publication of results. In this talk, I look at some long term issues of developing an effective cyberinfrastructure. I first look at the sets of processes and practices which have developed with new information infrastructures over the past 1000 years; and then examine current cyberinfrastructure developments especially in a range of geological sciences. The unifying argument is that we need to co-design social, organizational and technical settings in order to develop workable cyberinfrastructures.


Geoffrey C. Bowker is Executive Director, Regis and Dianne McKenna Professor Center for Science, Technology and Society, Santa Clara University. He was previously Professor in and Chair of the Department of Communication, University of California, San Diego. His PhD is in History and Philosophy of Science at Melbourne University. He studies social and organizational aspects of the development of very large scale information infrastructures. He has written with Leigh Star a book on the history and sociology of medical classifications (Sorting Things Out: Classification and Practice - published by MIT Press in September 1999). This book looks at the classification of nursing work, diseases, viruses and race. His next book, entitled Memory Practices in the Sciences about formal and informal recordkeeping in science over the past two hundred years, which includes extensive discussion of biodiversity informatics, has just been released. He was 2002-2003 member of an OECD working group on international data sharing in science ( – the report can be found at this address. More information, including a number of publications can be found at his website:

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