A Story Without End: Writing the Residual into Information Infrastructure
To facilitate efficient interactions between people and information, standard design practice for metadata and other classificatory structures emphasizes precisely delineated category boundaries: a biological specimen of a butterfly is of a particular species, a document is written in one or more distinct languages, a flight to Chicago has an identifiable airline. But the world is diverse, unruly, and dynamic, and such boundaries are inevitably porous. The modern African French in document A is very different from the sixteenth-century Parisian French in document B. Your flight is run by United but operated by Mesa. Entomologists in the nineteenth century thought the butterfly was species X, but now entomologists aren? sure: it might be Y or perhaps Z. Leigh Star and Geoffrey Bowker describe information that falls outside, in between, is split among, or otherwise doesn?t fit in a category system as residual. Residuality is pervasive and unavoidable; in other words, standard design practice for category systems attempts to achieve an impossible goal.
In this talk, I report on an extended critical design project that investigates the phenomenon of residuality as a design resource, rather than a design problem. By creating and reflecting on information systems that engage directly with residuality, we have begun to identify productive modes of interaction associated with residual information, and accompanying design strategies for facilitating these interactive experiences. Much of this work was performed in collaboration with iSchool doctoral students Julia Bullard and Daniel Carter; a number of iSchool students have participated as designers.
8:15am to 9:30am