CI Studies Bibliography — Taxonomy

This document serves as a register of the “tags” used in the Zotero “group library” underlying the CI Studies Bibliography. (We use the excellent Zotpress WordPress plug-in to feed Zotero into the CIstudies.org site.) The other purpose of this document is to declare the ordering principles behind those tags—in essence, the principles for the structure and scope of “critical infrastructure studies” as an emerging field. (Document last revised 2 February 2019)

(a) Proposed Principles on the Taxonomical Structure & Scope of “Critical Infrastructure Studies”

The following are principles for the structure and scope of the evolving taxonomy of the CI Studies Bibliography on “critical infrastructure studies” (which is collected in a Zotero group library and imported automatically to the CIstudies.org web site).

  1. The CI Studies Bibliography collects materials of interest to critical infrastructure studies, where “critical” means (broadly) that works are included for one of two overlapping reasons:
    • works represent alternative domains or approaches to infrastructure that provide a critical parallax (different perspectives) on any particular understanding of infrastructure. For example, it is important that the CI studies bibliography includes works ranging among the design, social science, humanities, and arts fields because they reciprocally offer critical perspectives on each other.
    • works bear in some interesting way on the thought, theory, philosophy, methods, politics, policy, strategy, principles, art, ethics, and other larger issues related to infrastructure studies. (“Critical infrastructure” in the narrower sense of “mission-critical” or “can’t fail” infrastructure is one subordinate branch of “critical infrastructure studies.”) Thus, for instance, the CI Studies Bibliography includes Thomas P. Hughes’ book Networks of Power on the history of “electrification” because it created the thought-paradigm for how to think about infrastructure as “large technical systems.” By contrast, the bibliography does not collect technical materials or impact studies related to electrical grids as such.
  2. The CI Studies Bibliography taxonomy takes the form of “tags” in Zotero. Tags in the CI Studies Bibliography are conceived as referring to attributes of the general class of “infrastructure” and not as collecting categories in themselves. That is, a tag like “Environment” identifies works that bear in some interesting way on the relation between infrastructure and environment; but the bibliography does not attempt to collect works in the field of environmental studies as such. This means that the completeness, representativeness, and balance of works in fields associated with tags will necessarily seem deficient to those focused on those fields themselves. Put poetically, tag categories are a kind of haiku. It is okay for the CI Studies Bibliography to represent the relation of a field (like “Environment”) to infrastructure just by noticing a cricket or two and the sound of the wind soughing through the grass (i.e., an impression of some items in the field).
  3. This is a “flat” rather than structured or nested taxonomy, on the principle that it is better and easier first to assign object-like tags. Such tags can later be organized at a higher level of synthesis/analysis by multiple people from diverse perspectives.

(b) Related Fields

The following is the beginning of a list of identified “related fields.” Related fields often intersect with critical infrastructure studies—to the point that their names might be used as tags for items in the bibliography. But, as articulated under principle A.1 above, they are autonomous enough that the CI Studies Bibliography is not collecting them as such.

  • Affordance Theory
  • Algorithmic criticism
  • Architecture
  • Design
  • Economics
  • Environmental studies
  • Landscape design
  • Logistics studies
  • Platform studies
  • Science technology studies (STS)
  • Software studies
  • Supply or logistics studies (see, for example, the Supply & Command conference at NYU in 2018)
  • [other related fields will be added]

(c) Zotero Tags Used in the Bibliography

The following are the tags currently used to taxonomize works in the CI Studies Bibliography:

  • Animals
  • Architecture
  • Art and aesthetics
  • Borders and migration
  • Business and industry
  • City and urban studies
  • Cyberinfrastructure
  • Digital humanities
  • Disability studies
  • Disaster
  • Economics
  • Energy
  • Ethnography
  • Environment
  • Events
  • Feminist
  • Fiction
  • Higher Education
  • Information and IT
  • Institutional
  • Internet and ICT
  • Labor and work
  • Landscape
  • Large technical systems
  • Library museum archive
  • Logistics
  • Media infrastructures
  • Military
  • Minimal computing
  • Mining oil extraction
  • Mission critical
  • Object and thing theory
  • Organizational
  • Photography
  • Physical
  • Platform studies
  • Poetry
  • Policy
  • Postcolonial and colonial
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Repair and care
  • Scientific
  • Security
  • Small technical systems
  • STS (science technology studies)
  • Telecommunications
  • Transportation
  • Waste, garbage, sewage
  • Water
  • [other tags will be added]