Chains of Participation in Producing Biodiversity Infrastructures: Digital Reconfigurations of Scientific Work.

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A remarkable developments in science over the past thirty years has been the development of large databases that support knowledge production, representation and circulation. Increasingly, chains of instruments, people and devices are involved in compiling, organizing and documenting biodiversity data collections. Several digital participatory science initiatives studied between 2013 and 2017 illustrates the diversity of amateur participation using digital technologies at every step of the knowledge process – from contributing local field observations, to identifying species, quality control and validation, to digitizing plant specimens for inclusion in transnational databases. Collaborative platforms and databases emerge as elements that are endowed with a certain performativity through the ordering possibilities they suggest or impose. Attending to practices in these contexts raises questions about organizational innovations and novel forms of division of labor in participatory science. The participation of large numbers of people with varied backgrounds and expertise results in a distributed and less linear type of biodiversity science. As the product of numerous interventions, data are best seen as relational; their authorship or ownership need not be their defining characteristic. Indeed, the data generating technologies and practices of participatory science initiatives themselves generate a kind of untethered relational potential that deserves exploration.

This content has been updated on 1 February 2022 at 14 h 20 min.