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Dissertation Information for Eric Meyer

- Eric Meyer

- Ph.D.

- Library and Information Science

- Indiana University (USA) (2007)

- Howard Rosenbaum

- Noriko Hara
- Pnina Fichman-Shachaf
- Barry Bull

MPACT Status: Fully Complete

Title: Socio-Technical Perspectives on Digital Photography: Scientific Digital Photography Use by Marine Mammal Researchers

Abstract: This dissertation examines the intersection between technology and scientific
practice for marine mammal scientists who use digital photography. Scientists studying
marine mammals use a technique called photo-identification to identify individual
animals such as whales and dolphins in the wild. This technique involves photographing
the animals, and later matching these images to catalogs of previously sighted and
identified individual animals. This information then contributes to understanding the
population parameters, behaviors, and other information about the animals. These
methods have been in widespread use since the 1970s; recently, however, most scientists
in this field have switched from film photography to digital photography.
This research demonstrates that this change, which seems at first glance to be a
simple matter of swapping one three-pound piece of equipment loaded with film for
another similar looking three-pound piece of equipment equipped with a digital sensor
and computer memory cards, has had important consequences throughout this scientific
domain. Some of these consequences were intended, others were unintended. Among the
unintended consequences, some are positive, some are negative, and some are still being
negotiated. The consequences range from the benefit of having instant feedback in the
field, which improves accuracy and efficiency in the data collection process, to the cost
of dealing with the increasingly complex information systems needed to work with the
large flow of information through the labs.
Digital photography has rapidly replaced film photography in many domains over
the last decade. Even though digital cameras are becoming nearly ubiquitous in every
domain where photography plays and important role, however, very little research has
attempted to understand the socio-technical nature of digital photography and what the
consequences are of this change. This social informatics study uses Kling’s Socio-
Technical Interaction Networks (STIN) strategy to analyze the regular uses of digital
photography within this scientific field, and to understand the consequences of this
technology for the practice of science. The research involved interviews and observations
of 41 scientists working at thirteen laboratories, plus the analysis of supporting

MPACT Scores for Eric Meyer

A = 0
C = 0
A+C = 0
T = 0
G = 0
W = 0
TD = 0
TA = 0
calculated 2008-08-10 12:41:02

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Students under Eric Meyer

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