The Durability and Fragility of Knowledge Infrastructures: Lessons Learned from Astronomy

Christine L. Borgman, Peter T. Darch, Ashley E. Sands, Milena S. Golshan, ArXiv.org e-Print archive, Nov 03, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Yes, it's a specialized case: "Research reported here draws upon a long-term study of scientific data practices to ask questions about the durability and fragility of infrastructures for data in astronomy." But from what I observe these trends exist in every discipline (and most fare worse than astronomy). "Infrastructure is fragile, even for one of the most durable of sciences – astronomy. The invisible work necessary to maintain individual systems, tools, technologies, standards, and other resources – much of it done by information professionals – may only become visible upon breakdown." Why not take a look for the websites, articles, conferences and other digital artifacts from our discipline from just ten years ago? It's astonishing how much has been lost, because nobody's taking care of it.

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