“The research enterprise of a leading academic institution is a complex system of human, physical and digital infrastructures that functions to support the production of new knowledge and the advancement and training of research practitioners“
When I first read this statement, my initial thought was: This makes sense. However, it all seemed too easy. I understood all of the words, but it was like I wasn’t thinking about the context of how they go together. So I read it again, a few more times and saw more complexity in the statement. Each time I read it, it seemed more complex, like that there were more questions and like there was more ambiguity than the previous time I read the phrase.
For example, the first part of the statement that stood out to me was “complex system of human, physical and digital infrastructures.” It is easy for me to picture the physical infrastructures. This is the physical world we live in everyday. It is the buildings and roads that make up the universities where we study. The physical infrastructure describes the labs and environments where the research and experiments take place. This is a place. The digital infrastructure, while somewhat more abstract, is still fairly easy for me to think about. While this isn’t something I can see or touch, I am familiar with programming languages, writing code, how data and information is stored and retrieved. But humans seem different. How can you systemize humans? They have their own wills and opinions; humans are unreliable, fickle creatures that change their minds and behaviors at anytime with little to no warning. But at the same time, humans are a necessary part of this puzzle. They are responsible for creating the infrastructures, both physical and digital which could not exist without human input. While I can see that the human aspect is vital to the research enterprise, it is difficult for me to group them with physical and digital infrastructures because humans seem so different.
The other part of the phrase that really jumped out at me was the idea of the production of new knowledge. In SI 110 we talked about the progression of knowledge from signal (sensory input), to data (the input that is collected), to information (the data that is processed), and finally, to knowledge which can be stored and recalled. This brought up the question: if knowledge follows this progression, how can it be produced? This progression of knowledge seemed personal, like individual discovery, but the statement sounds like knowledge is something that can be produced for the masses. Talking in class on Tuesday about how the production of knowledge, in this case, meant publishing papers made more sense in the context. However, the question that lingers is that if knowledge must follow this process, is the production of papers really the same as the production of knowledge? You can put out the information to everyone in the world, but if people can’t understand it, then can you still call it knowledge?
Each time I read it, it seemed more complex, like that there were more questions and there was more ambiguity than the previous time I read the phrase.