Informatics professors Bowker, Ito release interdisciplinary, culture-focused books

March 24, 2016

Both research scientist Mimi Ito and Informatics professor Geoffrey Bowker have recently released books that delve deeply into the sociocultural aspects of today’s technical age.

Ito’s book “Participatory Culture in a Networked Era: A Conversation on Youth, Learning, Commerce, and Politics,” released late last year and co-authored by Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd and media scholar Henry Jenkins, takes a look at the new affordances in participatory culture enabled by digital, networked and mobile technologies. The three authors—experts in their respective fields—deliver interdisciplinary insights on how our lives are shaped by emerging media.

“Stressing the social and cultural contexts of participation, the authors describe the process of diversification and mainstreaming that has transformed participatory culture,” the book description notes. “They advocate a move beyond individualized personal expression and argue for an ethos of ‘doing it together’ in addition to ‘doing it yourself.’”

Bowker’s book “Boundary Objects and Beyond: Working with Leigh Star”—co-edited by UCLA Sociology Professor Stefan Timmermans, UC San Francisco Professor Emerita Adele E. Clarke, and Simon Fraser University Communications Professor Ellen Balka with numerous other contributors—pays tribute to one of the most influential science studies scholars of the last several decades, Susan Leigh Star (1954–2010).

Released last month, the book acknowledges Star’s enormous professional legacy. She was noted for her work in the social and ethical histories of classification systems, as well as the ways science and technology are both marginalizing and liberating. Sadly, Star passed before developing the full range of her work. This text “collects articles by Star that set out some of her thinking on boundary objects, marginality, and infrastructure, together with essays by friends and colleagues from a range of disciplines—from philosophy of science to organization science—that testify to the wide-ranging influence of Star’s work,” according to the book’s description.