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Open Access Publications from the University of California

DataZoo: an Oceanographic Information System Supporting Scientific Research


This report is about the development of DataZoo, an information system. Design, development, and use of this computer-based technology that aggregates, organizes, and delivers scientific research data is brought about through the efforts of a small information management team aiming to meet the data needs of field-oriented scientific research. The system supports ship-based oceanographic projects whose participants measure and observe and thereby produce an array of biological, physical, and chemical field data. The report could be considered the story of a software system but it becomes a larger narrative, a suite of interdependent tales when the data, the multiple contexts, and the associated roles are considered. To be understood fully, the DataZoo story must be considered from a variety of perspectives: a tool view provides a technological account of the information system with its incremental growth over three generations; an infrastructure view gives a situated understanding of the configuration and the work involved in creating a multi-faceted information infrastructure that interfaces with existing practices and procedures, and an ecosystem view describes the various phases, components, scopes and sphere’s of context with data arrangements. Our intent with this report is to reach out to a diverse set of audiences by including non-technical material along with technical material from various perspectives.

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