Geoffrey Bowker (UC Irvine) (Opening Lecture)

Geoffrey C. Bowker is Professor at the School of Information and Computer Science, University of California at Irvine, where he directs the Evoke Laboratory, which explores new forms of knowledge expression. Recent positions include Professor of and Senior Scholar in Cyberscholarship at the University of Pittsburgh iSchool and Executive Director, Center for Science, Technology and Society, Santa Clara Together with Leigh Star he wrote Sorting Things Out: Classification and its Consequences; his most recent book is Memory Practices in the Sciences.

He analyze the layering of cultural, ethical and social values in big data from the point of view of design. Drawing on examples from the social, natural and human sciences, I argue that that large databases with associated tools for data analytics are rich sites for ethical and political analysis and further that there is a need to recognize this at the design stage.

Professor Geoffrey Bowker is passionate about "values in design" - the ways in which social, cultural and political values affect and are shaped by information technology. Consider today's mobile phone technology: "Cell phones can be liberating devices, but they don't tend to work for people challenged by age or infirmity," he says. By pinpointing how technology design only gets it partially right, his research provides insights that prioritize underserved communities and facilitate more universal designs.