Infrastructures are ecologies of numerous systems, each with unique origins and goals, which are made to interoperate by means of standards, socket layers, social practices, norms, and individual behaviours. This course examines how information infrastructures form, how they change, and how they shape (and are shaped by) social and cultural forces. Particular focus is paid to libraries, archives, scientific research practices, the Internet, the World Wide Web, and cyber-infrastructures. The course includes an examination of the role of standards, such as library catalogues, classification systems, TCP/IP, HTML, and metadata standards, and changing social structures and knowledge practices, such as scientific disciplines, professional societies, and universities. Finally, the course engages with broad theories of infrastructure and foreground the usually hidden aspects of infrastructures, be they material, informational, or structural.
Effective fall 2017