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Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford
Digital Research and Styles of Knowing across the Disciplines
The idea of ‘styles of knowing’ has been proposed by Ian Hacking as a way to understand how research works across the sciences. His identification of six such styles fits current digital transformations of research in many ways, but raises a number of questions: which styles lend themselves to different ways of using digital tools and data? And if different styles are unevenly distributed across disciplines in digital research, what determines this unevenness: the content of disciplines – its objects of research? Or are digital tools and data, or they way they are socially organized, driving the research agenda? Or perhaps funding opportunities, or movements to computerize research, in the manner of social movements? Intriguingly, it seems that some of the styles exemplified in e-Science can also be found in e-Humanities and in areas of e-Social Science which are not normally thought of as scientific. Hence we can also ask: do styles pertain to science, or to ways of knowing beyond the sciences? How is digital research configured such that it promotes different patterns of advance within and between disciplines? These questions cannot be answered with certainty, as digital research is science-in-the-making. A number of illustrations and signposts can be used, however, to improve our understanding of this research front.
Ralph Schroeder is Professor at the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford. He is director of research at the Institute and director of its Master’s degree in ‘Social Science of the Internet’. His books include ‘Rethinking Science, Technology and Social Change’ (Stanford University Press 2007) and ‘Being there Together: Social Interaction in Virtual Environments’ (Oxford University Press 2010). Before coming to Oxford, he was Professor at Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden. His current research is focused on the digital transformations of research.
Manifesto for e-Humanities?