Geoffrey C. Bowker


Director, Values in Design Laboratory

Department of Informatics


Current CV | Bio Page

Here at the Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, I am delighted to serve as Professor and Director of our Values in Design Laboratory. Prior to finding a place in the sun, I was Professor of Cyberscholarship at the iSchool, University of Pittsburgh, and before that Executive Director and the Regis and Dianne McKenna Professor at the Center for Science, Technology and Society at Santa Clara University (CA).

I research on the use of web and other digital resources across a set of disciplines. I work with scholars to uncover ways in which new forms of knowledge are being (or could be) generated by creative use of  these digital resources.  For example: how did a complete database of classical Greek literature transform work in the classics; or how could intensive, long term monitoring of ecosystems feed into a new policy framework for sustainability? 

The Values in Design Laboratory has a mission to train researchers in the broad range of disciplines necessary (including Informatics, Computer Science, Design and Science and Technology Studies) to produce new forms of information systems and technology which express/perform strong social and ethical values.

I earned my PhD at the University of Melbourne, Australia, in History and Philosophy of Science and followed up with an extended post doctoral position at the Ecole des Mines in Paris.

My work on information infrastructure involves looking at shifting classification systems in medicine, distributed collaborative work practices in environmental science, data sharing practices and biodiversity informatics. My central analytic question here is how scientists in the various sciences contributing to the subject of biodiversity communicate both with each other and with policymakers - and in particular how do the data structures and practices in use affect this communication. Here is an interview with me about classification and infrastructure. Here is a paper written with Marc Berg on medical records; and here is one written with Leigh Star on classification, standards and actor-network theory. Here is a more complete set of papers.

My book on information management and industrial geophysics at Schlumberger, Science on the Run, is to be found in quality bookshops in airports everywhere; my book with Susan Leigh Star, Sorting Things Out: Classification and its Consequences was published by MIT Press in October, 1999 and is available at your neighbourhood online bookseller. A paperback version came out in September 2000. I am working right now (even as you are reading this) on distributed scientific work, with an emphasis on social and organizational features of emerging scientific cyberinfrastructures. My most recent publication, All Knowledge Is Local, was recently published in Learning Communities: An International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts in 2010. I am on the editorial board of The Information Society, Information and Organization, Metascience and Social Studies of Science.

And here is my cat, or at least one of them - and that was then, you should see her now... .