Computing affects how scientific knowledge is constructed, verified, and validated. Rapid changes in hardware capability, and software flexibility, are coupled with a volatile tool and skill set, particularly in the interdisciplinary scientific contexts of oceanography. Existing research considers the role of scientists as both users and producers of code. We focus on how an intentional, individually-initiated but socially-situated, process of uptake influences code written by scientists. We present an 18-month interview and observation study of four oceanography teams, with a focus on ethnographic shadowing of individuals undertaking code work. Through qualitative analysis, we developed a framework of deliberate individual change, which builds upon prior work on programming practices in science through the lens of sociotechnical infrastructures. We use qualitative vignettes to illustrate how our theoretical framework helps to understand changing programming practices. Our findings suggest that scientists use and produce software in a way that deliberately mitigates the potential pitfalls of their programming practice. In particular, the object and method of visualization is subject to restraint intended to prevent accidental misuse.
Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) – Springer Journals
Published: May 24, 2017
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