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Trading Zones and Interactional ExpertiseCreating New Kinds of Collaboration$
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Michael E. Gorman

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780262014724

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262014724.001.0001

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From Wizards to Trading Zones: Crossing the Chasm of Computers in Scientific Collaboration

From Wizards to Trading Zones: Crossing the Chasm of Computers in Scientific Collaboration

(p.107) 6 From Wizards to Trading Zones: Crossing the Chasm of Computers in Scientific Collaboration
Trading Zones and Interactional Expertise

Jeff Shrager

The MIT Press

This chapter discusses the author’s efforts to bridge the chasm between molecular biologists and computer scientists. The author decided to go beyond the acquisition of interactional expertise by actually becoming a molecular biologist to see if dual training was the answer: Perhaps molecular biology and computer science should be combined. He made a deal to do computational work for biologists in exchange for being trained to do their sort of research—a very simple trading zone. The author succeeded in learning enough molecular biology to become a contributory expert, but spent most of his time doing computational work because the biologists did not become familiar with his expertise, at which point he became aware of the extent of the chasm between biology and computation. His next attempt was to design BioBike, a tool that biologists could use to perform their own computations. Although BioBike has been very useful to computer scientists helping biologists, it has not been picked up by the biologists themselves as a standalone tool, and has facilitated trading zones between biologists and programmers, acting as a kind of hybrid of a creole and a boundary object.

Keywords:   molecular biology, computer science, interactional expertise, trading zone, BioBike, creole, boundary object

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