A Bridge Too Far?
A Bridge Too Far?
Critical Remarks on the Concept of “Infrastructure” in Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Information Systems
The study of computing infrastructures has grown significantly due to the rapid proliferation and ubiquity of large-scale IT-based installations. At the same time, recognition has also grown of the usefulness of such studies as a means for understanding computing infrastructures as material complements of practical action. Subsequently the concept of “infrastructure” (or “information infrastructures,” “cyberinfrastructures,” and “infrastructuring”) has gained increasing importance in the area of Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) as well as in neighboring areas such as Information Systems research (IS) and Science and Technology Studies (STS). However, as such studies have unfolded, the very concept of “infrastructure” is being applied in different discourses, for different purposes, in myriad different senses. Consequently, the concept of “infrastructure” has become increasingly muddled and needs clarification. The chapter presents a critical investigation of the vicissitudes of the concept of “infrastructure” over the last 35 years.
Keywords: infrastructure, information infrastructure, cyberinfrastructure, infrastructuring, Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, CSCW, Information Systems research, IS, Science and Technology Studies, STS, computing technology
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