INF 391E - Advanced Topics in Information Studies - RESTRICTED: Objects, Models, and Representations - RESTRICTED
Graduate standing, Information Studies 391D (Topic 10: Survey of Information Studies), and consent of instructor. Additional prerequisites may vary with the topic.
Advanced study of specific topics in Information Studies. Intended primarily for doctoral students in the School of Information
The equivalent of three lecture hours a week for one semester.
May be repeated for credit when the topics vary.
In this doctoral seminar we will explore the role that physical objects play in human understanding and how that role may be usurped or transformed as physical objects undergo processes of abstraction inherent in models and representations. Specifically, we seek to learn what happens as digitization permits the increasing virtualization of physical objects. We will consider research and ideas from various realms of human interaction; for example, I find fascinating Robert Nelson’s (2000) exploration of the transition from works of art to the slide lecture to digitization of art, and the implications of that transition for the teaching of art history, in particular, and oral practice, in general. Our focus will be on objects, models, and representations in the realm of work. Scientists and engineers have long used models and representations to study phenomena whose size (e.g., too small, as in molecules, or too big, as in buildings) do not lend themselves to ready physical examination or whose complexity (e.g., too many interdependencies, as in factory production) do not facilitate easy manipulation. Today, with modern computer technologies, a broad range of physical objects is susceptible to such processes of abstraction. Consequently, people in many occupations find themselves working increasingly with models or representations of physical objects rather than with the objects themselves, calling into question the continued importance of materiality in everyday work. Medicine provides a good example, as Kelly Joyce (2005) makes clear in her study of magnetic resonance imaging and the production of authoritative knowledge among doctors and technicians, and as we see as well in Catherine Waldby’s (2000) exploration of the Visible Human Project, virtual surgery, and other forms of what she terms “posthuman medicine.” Our intent is to understand the changes that may accompany this transition from the physical or material to the digital or virtual. The reading list is not yet complete, but may include work-based treatments such as Peter Galison’s Image & Logic, Soraya de Chadarevian and Nick Hopwood’s Models, and Kathryn Henderson’s On Line and On Paper; works that tend more towards the philosophical, such as Lorraine Daston’s Things that Talk and Sherry Turkle’s Evocative Objects; and perhaps a jaunt into neuroscience and cognition via such works as Andy Clark’s Being There.
Objects, Models, and Representations - RESTRICTED
Restricted to Doctoral students in the School of Information. Others must obtain consent from the instructor before enrolling.