Friday, October 12, 2007

If A Tree Falls in the Forest

Christine Borgman is a name that I associate with sophisticated analysis of the ideologies and practices of the archive and the academy, so I was surprised to hear about her work getting her feet wet by gathering data from out in the natural environment by using sensors in the field, ubiquitous computing technologies, and new knowledge communities associated with what Lev Manovich has called "big data." The woman that I think of in connection with digital libraries is now extending her work with "memory institutions" by minding "mosscams" and "wetlabs." Now at the Center for Embedded Network Sensing, she is considering how "data are becoming objects" and "oral culture is breaking down" out where faculty and their students are collecting data about biological, physical, and chemical changes in the environment. Because good science and rich environmental data sets like this have been so incapable of effecting policy change where it matters most, at the federal level, it was hard to hear Borgman's presentation without wondering if her skills were being misdirected.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This piece says that studying
information produced by
environmental sensors is of
questionable value because
environmental data hasn't had
any effect on policy at the
federal level.

But isn't that lack of effect
due entirely to the current
administration being
impervious to actual evidence
that contradicts its preconceived
notions, whatever the issue?
And with an administration change
coming in less than 18 months,
wouldn't now be a particularly
good time to renew efforts at
gathering information and
studying how to use it effectively?

3:38 PM  

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