Geoffrey C Bowker
The Role of Organizational Memory in the Production of Knowledge
At the confluence of the field of information science, sociology of science, and organizational theory stands the issue of organizational memory: how do organizations code knowledge about the past, and how do they access that knowledge? A key issue is the question of how formal memory (held in scientific papers or medical classification systems) interacts with informal memory (held in the stories that people tell about their own organization--the 'organizational' culture). The field of the sociology of science has, through the works of Bruno Latour and others, developed a series of tools for analyzing the relationship between formal and informal knowledge, but this work has not been applied to the question of organizational memory. With this project, Professor Bowker will produce an article about the nature of organizational memory that can lay the theoretical foundations for discussing the nature of the information infrastructure that acts as substrate for work in the sciences and in business. Such foundations are badly needed at a time when the National Information Infrastructure is becoming a reality.