New Issue: Volume 56 Issue 2 (July 2021)

Norms and Open Systems in Open Science

by Johanna Cohoon and James Howison

p. 115-137


Through a review of studies of open science and open behaviors (data sharing, open access publishing, open source software development) and editorial writing that promotes open science, we identify two themes prominent in the advocacy of open science: normative (Mertonian) scientific values and the importance of open systems. We report examples of these themes and suggest that open science advocates understand the movement as a value-driven ethos pursuing improved science through the use of technology. We contend that a belief in the open ethos is distinct from participation in open behaviors and that, consequently, open systems are used by two ideologically distinct user groups. We conclude by discussing the implications of this characterization of open science, focusing on the consequences of different user groups using the same technological systems.

Johanna (Hannah) Cohoon is a doctoral candidate in the School of Information at UT Austin. Her research is focused on the process of change in science. She received her BA in cognitive science from the University of Virginia and worked at the Center for Open Science before becoming a Longhorn.

James Howison is an associate professor in the School of Information at UT Austin. A sociotechnical systems scholar, he studies open software development, especially in science. He publishes in CSCW, MIS Quarterly, and JASIST and is supported by the Sloan Foundation and the NSF (2015 CAREER, 2019 PECASE) (

Processing Mad Men: Media Studies, Legitimation, and Archival Description

by Kate Cronin

p. 138-157


Media scholars and historians are well aware of major gaps within the archival record, gaps that have fundamentally shaped the theories and methodologies of media studies as a discipline. However, much of the valuable media studies research that has been done to interrogate ideological work within "the archive" is actually research into the politics of one specific archival process: acquisition. This article focuses instead on the process of archival description. Comparing the rhetorical strategies present in the press surrounding the Harry Ransom Center's (HRC) acquisition of Matthew Weiner's Mad Men materials with the HRC finding aid's description of the collection itself, this article demonstrates a historiographical imperative for media scholars to cultivate basic archival literacies drawn from the archival disciplines themselves. I argue that by better valuing the intellectual labor of archivists, media scholars will be well-positioned to make use of the considerable archival record that does remain.

Kate Cronin has a master's degree in film and media preservation from the University of Rochester and is currently a PhD candidate in the Radio-TV-Film Department at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research focuses on the labor and practices of information professionals within the US film and television industries.

Leveraging Secrets: Displaced Archives, Information Asymmetries, and Ba'thist Chronophagy in Iraq

by Michael Degerald

p. 158-177


During ruptures in state power in both 1991 and 2003, varying groups and individuals seized many Iraqi state archival records, with some later taken outside of the country. Different Iraqi groups gathered unprotected archival records, as did US troops in 2003, while other records were destroyed on the ground in Iraq, likely by state employees, to maintain the records' secrets. Would the information in these records be revealed, destroyed, or used by others to leverage power? Using the concept of information asymmetry, this article explores the battle over information held in Iraqi state archival records by tracing the shifting power relations and attempts to write Iraqi history based on the information the records contain. Accordingly, this article takes up the question of scholarly engagement with the displaced records.

Michael Degerald is a guest researcher at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University. He holds a PhD in Near and Middle Eastern studies from the University of Washington (2018). His research focuses on cultural, intellectual, and media histories of Iraq and the Levant during the Cold War.

Minding the Gap: Creating Meaning from Missing and Anomalous Data

by Ciaran B. Trace and Yan Zhang

p. 178-216


Complicating the notion that personal surveillance is always ubiquitous and pervasive, this article investigates the macro-, meso-, and microlevel "gaps" that confound the study of self-tracking. Literature from human-computer interaction, critical data studies, and archival science, as well as insights from qualitative research by the authors into the long-term value of self-tracking data, is used to expand a typology of "gaps" that exist as part of the activities, behaviors, technologies, and data practices of self-tracking. In this article an emphasis is placed on elucidating microlevel accountable and expressive gaps, articulating how people respond to and make sense of the temporal absences in their own self-tracking data. In the process, the authors argue for self-tracking research to reorient from a perspective that seeks to mitigate all data gaps to one in which data gaps are viewed as an opportunity to connect individuals with meaningful changes in the patterns of life.

Ciaran B. Trace is associate professor at the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin. Trace's research examines what constitutes a literate society and the role that people play in creating and sustaining literate environments.

Yan Zhang is associate professor at the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin. Zhang's research centers on consumer health information needs and information search behavior.

Archival Returns: Central Australia and Beyond edited by Linda Barwick, Jennifer Green, and Petronella Vaarzon-Morel (review)

p. 217-218

Archival Returns: Central Australia and Beyond 
edited by Linda Barwick, Jennifer Green, and Petronella Vaarzon-Morel

ISBN 978-1-7433-2672-5

Monica Galassi


WRITTEN BY A DIVERSE GROUP OF ABORIGINAL AND NON-ABORIGINAL COMMUNITY MEMBERS, knowledge holders, artists, and researchers, the book Archival Returns: Central Australia and Beyond presents examples of projects, negotiations, and technology used by and with Aboriginal communities from Central Australia. The invisible line that joins the essays in this book directs readers to the opportunities and challenges knotted in the processes of digitally returning archival material from Australian collecting institutions to their communities of origin.

Architects of Memory: Information and Rhetoric in a Networked Archival Age by Nathan R. Johnson (review)

p. 219-220

Architects of Memory: Information and Rhetoric in a Networked Archival Age 
by Nathan R. Johnson
ISBN 978-0-8173-2060-7

James A. Hodges


NATHAN R. JOHNSON'S ARCHITECTS OF MEMORY: INFORMATION AND RHETORIC IN A NET-worked Archival Age is a relatively brief and eminently readable treatise on the intertwined histories of librarianship, information science, and information technology. For any scholar working in one of the aforementioned areas yet hoping to better understand its precise relationship to the others, this book will prove invaluable. Architects of Memory makes secondary contributions in the areas of memory and rhetoric studies, which are equally well-grounded in historical and classical references, although slightly tangential to the book's other foci.

The Creativity Code: Art and Innovation in the Age of AI by Marcus Du Sautoy (review)

p. 221-222

The Creativity Code: Art and Innovation in the Age of AI 
by Marcus Du Sautoy
ISBN 978-0-6749-8813-2

Jina Hong


THE UBIQUITY OF AI IN CONTEMPORARY LIFE FORCES US TO RECKON WITH THE TRANSFORMATIVE capabilities of technical systems that afford new information practices. Yet to do it correctly is to not lose sight of both the deeply human and profoundly mathematical aspects of these assemblages. Marcus Du Sautoy's latest offering, The Creativity Code: Art and Innovation in the Age of AI, succeeds in its attempt to explain AI from an analytical, mathematical perspective for the layperson, and it provides readers with a personal qua scientific narrative about how the march of mathematics and the marvel of thinking machines are closely interwoven with historical and sociotechnical elements. This book is not overly technical and draws upon well-known cases in the history of mathematics and computing in order to further the reader's understanding of both the subject and the innately creative contexts that paved the path for the ubiquity of contemporary AI.

The Known Citizen: A History of Privacy in Modern America by Sarah E. Igo (review)

p. 223-224

The Known Citizen: A History of Privacy in Modern America
by Sarah E. Igo
ISBN 978-0-6747-3750-1

Andrea Ringer


SARAH IGO'S SWEEPING HISTORY OF PRIVACY IN THE KNOWN CITIZEN: A HISTORY OF PRIVACY in Modern America tells the story of how US citizens have conceptualized and negotiated ideas of privacy up to the current moment, when being unknown seems like an impossibility. This 2020 paperback edition is a reprint of the 2018 hardback edition. As the author of The Averaged American: Surveys, Citizens, and the Making of a Mass Public (2007), Igo uses this study of what it means to "become known" in a way that builds on her previous work. The Known Citizen argues that privacy is not an essential or constitutional term but instead has been constructed throughout history. Taking a long view, Igo historicizes the meanings and trappings of privacy while asking questions about what it means to be "known" in a society.

Lie Machines: How to Save Democracy from Troll Armies, Deceitful Robots, Junk News Operations, and Political Operatives by Philip N. Howard (review)

p. 225-226

Lie Machines: How to Save Democracy from Troll Armies, Deceitful Robots, Junk News Operations, and Political Operatives
by Philip N. Howard
ISBN 978-0-3002-5020-6

Claudia Flores-Saviaga


IN LIE MACHINES: HOW TO SAVE DEMOCRACY FROM TROLL ARMIES, DECEITFUL ROBOTS, Junk News Operations, and Political Operatives, Oxford University professor Philip Howard takes us on a journey through the history of the production of "lie machines" supported by the latest scientific research in the field of disinformation studies. In his view, politics is best understood as a sociotechnical system where political actors generate lies that people consume, while the algorithms, data sets, and information infrastructure determine their impact. Howard argues that just as political actors are getting very good at producing big lies, social media algorithms provide an effective way of distributing those lies, and the science of marketing lies to the right audience is improving every day.

The Information Manifold: Why Computers Can't Solve Algorithmic Bias and Fake News by Antonio Badia (review)

p. 225-226

The Information Manifold: Why Computers Can't Solve Algorithmic Bias and Fake News
by Antonio Badia
MIT PRESS, 2019. 352 PP.
ISBN 978-0-2620-4303-8

Christiana Varda


AS WE NAVIGATE THE CONTEMPORARY DIGITAL LANDSCAPE, INFORMATION FEELS UBIQUITOUS. Push notifications from news organizations, social media, and private messaging apps serve as a constant reminder that the flow of information is incessant, if not overwhelming. As we traverse this "information age" characterized by immediate access to abundant information, Antonio Badia invites us to pause and consider what counts as information. His book, The Information Manifold: Why Computers Can't Solve Algorithmic Bias and Fake News, examines how we define information by considering three different perspectives (syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic) that color not only how we understand information but also how we approach and manage it online on a daily basis in the context of issues such as algorithmic bias and misinformation.