reading notes: visualizing robotics history

Milojević, Staša, and Selma Šabanović. 2013. “Conceptual Foundations for Representing Robotics History in a Non‐linear Digital Archive.” Library Hi Tech 31 (2). Emerald Group Publishing Limited: 341–54. doi:10.1108/07378831311329095.

“Current online oral history archives are often forced into flat linear structure. … We want to take advantage of full capabilities of current technology to allow for non-linear presentations of narratives and data that do not conform to rigid timelines nor are forced into presenting a single aspect of the phenomenon.” p. 351

The project that this article describes aims to capture oral history accounts of the development of robotics and then use the resulting data alongside bibliometric data to create visualizations that position the history of robotics within a “knowledge ecology.” Thinking of the field of robotics — or any field, really — as a knowledge ecology allows one to consider the “interrelationships within and between the institutional, social, cognitive, historical, and material factors” that affected the development of a discipline. This moves the emphasis from a strictly linear timeline (based on publications alone) to a more context based, non-linear exploration (p.343).

The resulting collection, in the case of this project, allows a user to learn about the “local and personal understandings of robotics” as well as the “broader systemic picture” (p. 343). Meaning that the non-linear oral history accounts are placed within the context of the more linear timeline derived from bibliometric data (publications, patents, conferences).  Continue reading