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Infrastructure Time: Long-term Matters in Collaborative Development

  • Author(s): Karasti, Helena
  • Baker, Karen S.
  • Millerand, Florence
  • et al.
Abstract

This paper addresses the collaborative development of information infrastructure for supporting data-rich scientific collaboration. Studying infrastructure development empirically not only in terms of spatial issues but also, and equally importantly, temporal ones, we illustrate how the long-term matters. Our case is about the collaborative development of a metadata standard for an ecological research domain. It is a complex example where standards are recognized as one element of infrastructure and standard-making efforts include integration of semantic work and software tools development. With a focus on the temporal scales of short-term and long-term, we analyze the practices and views of the main parties involved in the development of the standard. Our contributions are three-fold: 1) extension of the notion of infrastructure to more explicitly include the temporal dimension; 2) identification of two distinct temporal orientations in information infrastructure development work, namely ‘project time’ and ‘infrastructure time’, and 3) association of related development orientations, particularly ‘continuing design’ as a development orientation that recognizes ‘infrastructure time’. We conclude by highlighting the need to enrich understandings of temporality in CSCW, particularly towards longer time scales and more diversified temporal hybrids in collaborative infrastructure development. This work draws attention to the manifold ramifications that ‘infrastructure time’, as an example of more extended temporal scales, suggests for CSCW and e-Research infrastructures.

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