Researchers to Study the Big Data Hubs as an Emerging Data Ecosystem

We don’t just facilitate innovative research at the #BDHubs – we go under the lens ourselves! A new study will examine the Hubs’ ongoing partnership-building activities, to better understand the rise and institutionalization of data sciences from the Hubs’ unique juncture of the academic, industry, government and non-profit sectors. A full announcement from the principal investigators is provided below.


David Ribes and Geoffrey Bowker to Study the Institutions of Data Science


Data Science is receiving a remarkably rapid uptake across the nation and globe as it institutionalized in university curricula, state governance, and industry strategy. Across all sectors, new forms of data collection and analytics hold the promise of being able to address anew the social and scientific issues of our times: from responding to natural disasters to monitoring the environment to developing fundamental scientific and technological insights.


None of this will happen by fiat – the development of appropriate data analytics must be accompanied by organizational innovations and alignments with the spheres of research, policy and industry, all the while addressing the many forthcoming challenges at the intersection of governance and data. David Ribes, associate professor in the department of Human Centered Design and Engineering (HCDE) at the University of Washington and Geoffrey C. Bowker, professor of Informatics in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at UC Irvine are launching an ethnographic and archival NSF-funded study of the emerging activities and operations within and across the Big Data Innovation Hubs and their funded Spoke projects. BDHubs is a geographically distributed ‘umbrella organization’ to foster innovation, coordination and collaboration across the data sciences, including partnerships across academia, industry, and government.


Along with Stephen Slota, a post-doctoral researcher in informatics, Bowker and Ribes will investigate the ongoing activities at the BDHubs and its partner institutions, their emerging plans for the future, and tie these to the long-history of developing research infrastructures. Ribes and Bowker deploy ethnographic methodology to study and inform the design of large-scale sociotechnical systems through exploration of social and organizational factors which shape or constrain their development.


Contact Katie Naum with any questions about this piece.