Data Handling in Knowledge Infrastructures: A Case Study from Oil Exploration
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction. 2018, 2 (CSCW), 123:1-123:16. https://doi.org/10.1145/3274392
Offshore oil exploration is concerned with subsea geological reservoirs that are numerous kilometers below the seabed. These reservoirs are knowable only through a knowledge infrastructure of interconnected technologies that are applied to diverse instrument-generated data. Noise, holes, and inaccuracies are inherent in the data, which depend on the technology producing it. We conducted an interpretative case study of data handling work in the exploration unit of a European oil company. Our findings show how data handling involves the skills needed for managing data identities and ownership, a variety of technologies, and contingent negotiations of data needs. We use the notion of repair to analyze this data handling work and discuss how the concept of repair in data handling involves keeping the knowledge infrastructure navigable and attending to countless details. Our research contributes to the literature on repairing infrastructures by considering how repair relates to data work.
Published version available at ACM DL: https://doi.org/10.1145/3274392