*** Apologies for cross-postings ***
CALL FOR PRESENTATION ABSTRACTS: I'm writing this to invite you to the 4S
2021 (The Society for Social Studies of Science) open panel *#152 *"Scaling
Software Studies (Inside) Out: Parallelization, Scalabilities, Distributed
Computing Machineries, and Their Materialities." The 4S conference this year
https://www.4sonline.org/meeting/ will be an online/offline (Toronto,
Canada) hybrid conference, from October 6th (Wed.) to 9th (Sat.).
The deadline for submitting presentation abstracts (up to 250 words) is
Monday, March 8th 2021, using the conference submission portal:
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Studies of information representation practices have shown that knowledge
productions are conditioned by the affordances of those representing
practices/systems like information architectures, classification schemas,
and database management systems (Bowker & Star 2000; Bowker 2005; Poirier
2017) and that those systems’ affordances are materialized, carrying their
own weight despite information’s supposed immateriality/virtuality
(Edwards, 2010; Chun 2011; Dourish 2017; Jones 2017; Ribes 2017).
Nevertheless, data processing practices having been parallelized and scaled
out for last decades, from Google’s MapReduce, Spanner, BigTable (enabling
to replace oligopolistic vendors’ proprietary software/hardware solutions
with open-sourced/commodified software/hardware combinations), through
Apache Hadoop (modeling Google’s distributed software), to Transformer (a
more parallelizable deep-learning model, on which OpenAI’s GPT-3 was built)
to name a few, have been less scrutinized, though these distributed
practices contributed much to solving scalability issues (c.f. Ribes 2014)
in ever-increasing resource-heavy computing systems, being epistemically
infrastructured (Malazita & Resetar 2019).
This panel seeks to collectively problematize those distributed systems for
storing, indexing, retrieving, and pattern-recognizing data, and explore
the themes/methods including, but not limited to,
– How have distributed/parallel computing architectures (either
software-or-hardware, or both) and algorithmic/programming models appeared
in relation to others (Stevens 2013; Dourish 2016)? How are materialities
and scalabilities related there?
– Which hegemonic cultural/societal norms have those parallel systems
and then-contemporary societies had in common (McPherson 2012)?
– Are there any homogenizing, mono-cultural/geographical, or
proprietary conditions these distributed computing machineries demand? By
which methods would those conditions be noticed? What consequences follow?
If those conditions should be cancelled/loosened, which alternatives (e.g.
computing “of” the South) be needed (Amrute & Murillo 2020; Takhteyev 2012;
computing, distributed data processing, software studies, critical data
studies, information infrastructure studies
– Amrute, Sareeta, and Luis Felipe R. Murillo. “Introduction: Computing
in/from the South.” *Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience *6, no. 2
(2020): 1-23. https://doi.org/10.28968/cftt.v6i2.34594
– Bowker, Geoffrey C. *Memory Practices in the Sciences. *Cambridge, MA:
MIT Press, 2005.
– Bowker, Geoffrey C., and Susan Leigh Star. Sorting Things Out:
Classification and its consequences. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000.
– Chun, Wendy Hui Kyong. “Always already there, or software as
memory,” in *Programmed
Visions: Software and Memory, *137-173. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011.
– Dourish, Paul. “Algorithms and their others: Algorithmic culture in
context.” *Big Data & Society *3, no. 2 (2016): 1-11.
– Dourish, Paul. *The Stuff of Bits: An essay on the materialities of
information. *Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017.
– Edwards, Paul N. *A Vast Machine: Computer models, climate data, and the
politics of global warming. *Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010.
– Jones, Matthew L. “Querying the Archive: Data Mining from Apriori to
PageRank.” In *Science in the Archives: Pasts, Presents, Futures, *edited
by Lorraine Daston, 311-328. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press,
– Malazita, James W., and Korryn Resetar. “Infrastructures of abstraction:
how computer science education produces anti-political subjects.” *Digital
Creativity *30, no. 4 (2019): 300-312.
– McPherson, Tara. “US Operating Systems at Mid-Century: The Intertwining
of Race and UNIX.” In *Race after the Internet, *edited by Lisa Nakamura,
Peter Chow-White, 21-37. New York, NY: Routledge, 2012.
– Ochigame, Rodrigo. “Informatics of the oppressed.” *LOGIC *11 (2020):
– Poirier, Lindsay. “A Turn for the Scruffy: An Ethnographic Study of
Semantic Web Architecture.” In *Proceedings of the 2017 ACM on Web Science
Conference, *pp. 359-367. 2017. https://doi.org/10.1145/3091478.3091505
– Ribes, David. “Ethnography of scaling, or, how to fit a national research
infrastructure in the room.” In *Proceedings of the 17th ACM conference on
Computer supported cooperative work & social computing, *pp. 158-170. 2014.
– Stevens, Hallam. *Life out of sequence: a data-driven history of
bioinformatics. *University of Chicago Press, 2013.
Department of Science and Technology Studies
The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Rensselaer Polytechnic institute
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Troy, NY 12180 United States
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