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Title: Computers, telecommunications, and the microbiologist : the online hunt for microbes.
Author: Pollak, Stephen P.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3493 7027
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 1994
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This study concerns the relationship between social and technological change. It asks whether the introduction of a new technology, computer mediated communication, enables scientists to engage in an altogether new and potentially more effective research activity, the online hunt for microbes. It shows that such technology, in the form of the Microbial Strain Data Network (MSDN), boosts significantly the overall speed, flexibility and extent of possible communication between microbe hunters and microbe suppliers. As a result, the global hunt for microbes in existing research and service oriented culture collections can transcend historiC geographic and institutional barriers that diminish its timeliness and comprehensiveness and, as a result, its potential utility. Therefore, the study hypothesises, microbe hunters will use extensively the MSDN's electronic mail and, especially, its online microbial strain databases. However, contrary to expectations, the mere availability of the MSDN is evidently insufficient to assure its widespread use. The MSDN was, in fact, little used during an extensive six month evaluation period in 1990191. Moreover, despite lowering its prices and increasing its strain database offerings, as well as improving its ease of use, the MSDN remains liltle used today. The study concludes that the MSDN's non-use reflects its general incompatibility with the context in which it was applied. The prevailing sociotechnological structure of microbiology diminishes significantly the accessibility, comparability, and reliability of shared strain data. In doing so, it reduces the potential benefits of CMC technology generally, and the MSDN in particular, in facilitating the online hunt for microbes. Success in the online hunt for microbes therefore requires changing the socio-technological context in which the hunt occurs. The discussion recommends possible changes to the socio-technological structure of microbiology to improve the online hunt's viability. It also points to the need for further research about the viability of the online hunt for microbes, as well as about the effective application of computer mediated communication technology to science generally.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Computer mediated communication; Bioinformatics