You are invited…
Speaker: Janet Vertesi
Sociologist of Science and Technology
Date: Friday, June 9, 2017
Venue: DBH 6011
Refreshments to follow immediately after in the 5th Floor lobby
Talk title: “Organized Science: Social Organization and Scientific Work at NASA.”
Abstract: How does social organization affect the conduct and practice of science? To explore this question, I present empirical data from a comparative ethnographic study of work on two NASA robotic spacecraft mission teams. While the robots appear to be singular entities operating autonomously in the frontiers of space, decisions about what the robots should do and how they accomplish their science are made on an iterative basis by a large, distributed team of scientists and engineers on Earth. As spacecraft team members negotiate among themselves for robotic time and resources, their sociotechnical organization is paramount to understanding how decisions are made, which scientific data are acquired, and how the team relates to their robot. Describing the contrasting organizational practices, interaction rituals, and forms of talk by means of which decisions are made and consensus is achieved on both missions, I explore how sociotechnical organization presents implications for team solidarity, data sharing, and scientific results.
Bio: Janet Vertesi is a sociologist of science and technology at Princeton University. She has worked with NASA’s robotic space missions as an ethnographer for over eight years, including the Mars Exploration Rover mission, the Cassini mission to Saturn, and a planned mission to Europa. Author of the forthcoming “Seeing Like a Rover: How Robots, Teams and Images Craft Knowledge of Mars” (University of Chicago Press, 2015), she is also an active member of the Human-Computer Interaction community, with publications at ACM CHI, Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, and Ubiquitous Computing. Vertesi is a Fellow of the Center for Information Technology Policy and an advisory board member of the Center for Data & Society.