Women’s Ways of Structuring Data
Smoothly functioning infrastructures are invisible. Examples of infrastructures range from those physically constructed, such as transportation and public utility systems, to those that are more elusive or fluctuating—systems of economic exchange, for example. When systems work well, people do not realize their immersion within them because they facilitate the ease of daily experiences. For example, we are not always aware of how much we rely on the power grid until a transformer breakdown causes our lights to go out. Infrastructures are complex and sometimes require work to understand and map out, yet once we are aware of how they exist, we find it hard to believe how we could have overlooked them in the first place. According to Geoffrey Bowker and Susan Leigh Star (1999), “the trick [to seeing infrastructure] is to question every apparently natural easiness in the world around us and look for the work involved in making it easy” (p. 39). A definition of infrastructure has several qualities: “embeddedness,” “transparency,” “reach or scope,” “learned as part of membership,” “links with conventions of practice,” “embodiment of standards,” “built on an installed base,” “becomes visible upon breakdown,” and “is fixed in modular increments, not all at once or globally” (Star & Ruhleder, 1996). Information systems scholars have examined infrastructures within a variety of contexts, working towards revealing both their material and their symbolic natures.
No Related Publications available