Classification as Catachresis: Double Binds of Representing Difference with Semiotic Infrastructure.

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Abstract:

Background This article explores the results of a three-year ethnographic study of how semiotic infrastructures—or digital standards and frameworks such as taxonomies, schemas, and ontologies that encode the meaning of data—are designed. Analysis It examines debates over best practices in semiotic infrastructure design, such as how much complexity adopted languages should characterize versus how restrictive they should be. It also discusses political and pragmatic considerations that impact what and how information is represented in an information system. Conclusion and implications This article suggests that all databased representations are forms of data power, and that examining semiotic infrastructure design provides insight into how culturally informed conceptions of difference structure how we access knowledge about our social and material worlds.

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Web Science Research Center (WSRC)
Principal Investigator: Deborah L. McGuinness
Co Investigator: John S. Erickson
Description: Web Science is the study of the World Wide Web and its impact on both society and technology, positioning the Web as an object of scientific study unto itself. Web Science recognizes the Web as a transformational, disruptive technology; its practitioners study the Web, its components, facets and characteristics. Ultimately, Web Science is about understanding the Web and anticipating how it might evolve in the future.

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Web Science
Lead Professor: Jim Hendler, Deborah L. McGuinness
Description: Web Science is the study of the World Wide Web and its impact on both society and technology, positioning the Web as an object of scientific study unto itself. Web Science recognizes the Web as a transformational, disruptive technology; its practitioners study the Web, its components, facets and characteristics. Ultimately, Web Science is about understanding the Web and anticipating how it might evolve in the future.
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