Colloquium : David Ribes (U. Washington): Entangled data and materials in infrastructure, or, "When Viral Load Was Crowned King"


David Ribes, Human Centered Design and Engineering University of Washington.

Entangled data and materials in infrastructure, or, "When Viral Load Was Crowned King"

The epistemic authority of data and material specimens cannot be grasped on their own, they are "entangled" with the traces of their production and preservation, which are preserved as metadata. It is an infrastructural function to renew access to the emergent and surprising uses of data, specimens and metadata. To illustrate these concepts this presentation will focus on a controversy in HIV/AIDS science, as archived blood specimens were used to establish the meaning of a new instrument measuring "viral load." When AIDS activists and scientists questioned the integrity of the specimens, controversy ensued and investigators turned to their archive of associated metadata to buttress and revisit their findings. The two are entangled: data serve to renew, authorize or foreclose specimens' use in investigations of a scientific object. In this narrative, data, blood, and the viral load instrument itself, each unfolded as surprising and emergent actors, for a time reshaping knowledge of HIV/AIDS.


David Ribes is associate professor in the Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering (HCDE). He is a sociologist of science and technology who focuses on the development and sustainability of research infrastructures (i.e., networked information technologies for the support of interdisciplinary science); their relation to long-term changes in the conduct of science; and, epistemic transformations in objects of research. David has a degree in Sociology, and is regular contributor to the fields of Science and Technology Studies (STS), and Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW). His methods are ethnographic, archival-historical and comparative. Seedavidribes.com for more.


7:15am to 8:30am


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