I’m a bit behind and so I’m just now noticing that Peter is blogging again. Here in “Taxonomy is a boundary object” he mentions something I learned this semester studying technology from a social science perspective. I first encountered the term boundary object when reading “Distributing intelligence, organizing diversity,” [PDF] a study of a silicon alley new media firm. In it David Stark, referencing Susan Star (Star & Griesemer, 1989), refers to the wireframe as an example of a boundary object as it is “stable enough to circulate, ambiguous enough to be an object of multiple meanings.” It’s interesting to think about the potential for a number of IA deliverables to eventually become boundary objects. Peter adds
What Star teaches us is that the fact that we all understand this term differently is not a problem. The boundary object serves to bring different communities of practice together.
Star, S. L. and J. R. Griesemer. 1989. “Institutional Ecology, ‘Translations,’ and Boundary Objects: Amateurs and Professionals in Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, 1907 - 1939.” Social Studies of Science 19: 387-420.