Top of the heap: Geoffrey Bowker

This article is part of the series:

“Top of the heap” is finally back!  This round we spoke to Geoffrey Bowker, Professor at the School of Information and Computer Science, at the University of California at Irvine.  Here’s a list of the books at the top of his “to read” list:

Geoffrey Bowker

David Wallace, The Emergent Multiverse: Quantum Theory according to the Everett Interpretation (Oxford University Press, 2012).

There’s still a lot to be done to work out what ’emergence’ means – this gives a very clear, witty, philosophical exposition. Part of a reading set for me inspired by Pete de Bolla’s concept of a dedisciplinarly ‘platform’ – in the sense of singular themes such as emergence which operate in multiple different fields quasi-independently.


Leslie Kurke, Aesopic Conversations: Popular Tradition, Cultural Dialogue and the Invention of Greek Prose (Princeton University Press, 2010).

I’ve loved her earlier poetic semiotics on the analysis of money (Coins, Bodies, Games and Gold) and since I am currently working on new modes of knowledge expression I want to see how the old modes emerged. And there’s something nice about putting a storyteller like Aesop rather than a Pythagoras in this role.


Michel Serres, La Guerre Mondiale, (Le Pommier, 2008).

His work on the nature of planetary management has been core for me. Further, his style of writing – while inimitable – is a wonderful example.


Lev Manovich, Software Takes Command, (Bloomsbury, 2013).

I’ve yet to read it, but we really need to take software seriously as a cultural artifact and Lev has been consistently excellent on this for a number of years.


Geoffrey C. Bowker is Professor at the School of Information and Computer Science, University of California at Irvine, where he directs a laboratory for Values in the Design of Information Systems and Technology. Recent positions include Professor of and Senior Scholar in Cyberscholarship at the University of Pittsburgh iSchool and Executive Director, Center for Science, Technology and Society, Santa Clara University. Together with Susan Leigh Star he wrote Sorting Things Out: Classification and its Consequences; his most recent book is Memory Practices in the Sciences.


Image: Botany Library. Rows of books, shelves and Herbarium cases. Field Columbian Museum. 1912.

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