On Constructing a Scientific Archives Network: Exploring Computational Approaches to the Cybernetics Thought Collective

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Abstract

Computational approaches to archives present archivists and users
with new ways of engaging with records and their provenance. Such approaches
are particularly useful for scientific archives due to the collective and collaborative
nature of modern scientific knowledge production. This article explores
computational approaches to digitized fonds of scientists involved in the transdisciplinary scientific movement cybernetics through the Cybernetics Thought
Collective: A History of Science and Technology Portal Project as a means to
reveal the ways cyberneticians have developed concepts and debated ideas
through the creation and exchange of correspondence and other records. The
project has experimented with machine-learning and natural-language-processing
tools to generate data from the materials in an effort to reveal connections
between the cyberneticians and their correspondence. Cybernetics seeks
to understand the human condition through experiments with machines, and,
in a cybernetically inspired sense, so too do archivists seek to understand their
archives through experiments with machines. Such explorations are important
for documenting scientific thought collectives like cybernetics in a digital age.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-147
JournalArchivaria
Volume91
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Keywords

  • Cybernetics
  • history of science
  • HISTORY of technology
  • archives

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