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Persistent Identifiers as Boundary Objects: A socio-geographical view of standards development and implementation
  • Mark Parsons,
  • Peter Fox
Mark Parsons

Corresponding Author:parsons.mark@gmail.com

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In this poster, we begin to explore how socio-geographical considerations can inform the development of data infrastructure, notably Persistent Identifiers. PIDs have become largely accepted within the Research Data Alliance, W3C, and elsewhere as core elements of data infrastructure. Science is comprised of many divergent formal and informal viewpoints at many different levels with a need for generalizable findings. PIDs act as “Boundary Objects” (Star & Griesemer, 1989) — objects that are part of multiple social worlds and facilitate communication between them. They allow meaning to be understood in different contexts and are “plastic enough to adapt to local needs, … yet robust enough to maintain a common identity across sites. They are weakly structured in common use and become strongly structured in individual site use.” Boundary objects work to reduce local uncertainty without damaging cooperation. It is a question of re-representations across intersecting worlds not consensus. PIDs work to allow machines and humans to understand which digital object is in question (identity), what it is (type), and where it is (location). Each of these questions is surprisingly fraught and complex.