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Organizing for ontological change: The kernel of an AIDS research infrastructure.

Ribes D, Polk JB - Soc Stud Sci (2015)

Bottom Line: In the case of the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study, these resources are as follows: specimens and data, calibrated instruments, heterogeneous experts, and participating cohorts of gay and bisexual men.We track three ontological transformations, examining how members prepared for and responded to changes: the discovery of a novel retroviral agent (HIV), the ability to test for that agent, and the transition of the disease from fatal to chronic through pharmaceutical intervention.Respectively, we call the work, 'technologies', and techniques of adapting to these changes, 'repurposing', 'elaborating', and 'extending the kernel'.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT
Is it possible to prepare and plan for emergent and changing objects of research? Members of the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study have been investigating AIDS for over 30 years, and in that time, the disease has been repeatedly transformed. Over the years and across many changes, members have continued to study HIV disease while in the process regenerating an adaptable research organization. The key to sustaining this technoscientific flexibility has been what we call the kernel of a research infrastructure: ongoing efforts to maintain the availability of resources and services that may be brought to bear in the investigation of new objects. In the case of the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study, these resources are as follows: specimens and data, calibrated instruments, heterogeneous experts, and participating cohorts of gay and bisexual men. We track three ontological transformations, examining how members prepared for and responded to changes: the discovery of a novel retroviral agent (HIV), the ability to test for that agent, and the transition of the disease from fatal to chronic through pharmaceutical intervention. Respectively, we call the work, 'technologies', and techniques of adapting to these changes, 'repurposing', 'elaborating', and 'extending the kernel'.

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The kernel of a research infrastructure as a ‘stack’: The MACS seeks to make four resources and services available for investigators to assemble new and ongoing objects of research. Each of the four resources requires specific forms of maintenance, repair, and upgrade to regenerate their availability (Ribes, 2014).
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fig1-0306312714558136: The kernel of a research infrastructure as a ‘stack’: The MACS seeks to make four resources and services available for investigators to assemble new and ongoing objects of research. Each of the four resources requires specific forms of maintenance, repair, and upgrade to regenerate their availability (Ribes, 2014).

Mentions: Within computer engineering, an OS kernel is most often visually represented in a simplified ‘layer cake diagram’ or ‘stack’. This is a useful representational convention for communicating a complex structure, and we adopt it for heuristic purposes (see Figure 1 for the MACS kernel as a stack). However, encountered as a sociotechnical assemblage (Kelty, 2008), no single human actor can understand a kernel’s full intricacies. An OS kernel may be millions of lines of code worked on by hundreds of programmers, sedimented over decades. The kernel is not a static thing; it is versioned. There are actors devoted to its maintenance, retrospectively repairing its operations in response to feedback, and prospectively upgrading its functions in anticipation of novel computational capacities. This prospective capacity is called ‘extensibility’: design-oriented to support imagined future needs. Such upgrades operate in tension with goals for ‘backwards compatibility’; that is, extra efforts must be invested into ensuring the continued functioning of legacy devices, data, or software.


Organizing for ontological change: The kernel of an AIDS research infrastructure.

Ribes D, Polk JB - Soc Stud Sci (2015)

The kernel of a research infrastructure as a ‘stack’: The MACS seeks to make four resources and services available for investigators to assemble new and ongoing objects of research. Each of the four resources requires specific forms of maintenance, repair, and upgrade to regenerate their availability (Ribes, 2014).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2 - License 3
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4400271&req=5

fig1-0306312714558136: The kernel of a research infrastructure as a ‘stack’: The MACS seeks to make four resources and services available for investigators to assemble new and ongoing objects of research. Each of the four resources requires specific forms of maintenance, repair, and upgrade to regenerate their availability (Ribes, 2014).
Mentions: Within computer engineering, an OS kernel is most often visually represented in a simplified ‘layer cake diagram’ or ‘stack’. This is a useful representational convention for communicating a complex structure, and we adopt it for heuristic purposes (see Figure 1 for the MACS kernel as a stack). However, encountered as a sociotechnical assemblage (Kelty, 2008), no single human actor can understand a kernel’s full intricacies. An OS kernel may be millions of lines of code worked on by hundreds of programmers, sedimented over decades. The kernel is not a static thing; it is versioned. There are actors devoted to its maintenance, retrospectively repairing its operations in response to feedback, and prospectively upgrading its functions in anticipation of novel computational capacities. This prospective capacity is called ‘extensibility’: design-oriented to support imagined future needs. Such upgrades operate in tension with goals for ‘backwards compatibility’; that is, extra efforts must be invested into ensuring the continued functioning of legacy devices, data, or software.

Bottom Line: In the case of the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study, these resources are as follows: specimens and data, calibrated instruments, heterogeneous experts, and participating cohorts of gay and bisexual men.We track three ontological transformations, examining how members prepared for and responded to changes: the discovery of a novel retroviral agent (HIV), the ability to test for that agent, and the transition of the disease from fatal to chronic through pharmaceutical intervention.Respectively, we call the work, 'technologies', and techniques of adapting to these changes, 'repurposing', 'elaborating', and 'extending the kernel'.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT
Is it possible to prepare and plan for emergent and changing objects of research? Members of the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study have been investigating AIDS for over 30 years, and in that time, the disease has been repeatedly transformed. Over the years and across many changes, members have continued to study HIV disease while in the process regenerating an adaptable research organization. The key to sustaining this technoscientific flexibility has been what we call the kernel of a research infrastructure: ongoing efforts to maintain the availability of resources and services that may be brought to bear in the investigation of new objects. In the case of the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study, these resources are as follows: specimens and data, calibrated instruments, heterogeneous experts, and participating cohorts of gay and bisexual men. We track three ontological transformations, examining how members prepared for and responded to changes: the discovery of a novel retroviral agent (HIV), the ability to test for that agent, and the transition of the disease from fatal to chronic through pharmaceutical intervention. Respectively, we call the work, 'technologies', and techniques of adapting to these changes, 'repurposing', 'elaborating', and 'extending the kernel'.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus