Secrecy and Openness Revisited: A Genealogy of Priority in Science

9 Mar 2011
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

470 Stephens Hall

Event Type

Mario Biagioli
University of California, Davis

Scientists and inventors worry about being scooped not only by fellow practitioners, but also by people we would not see as competitors but rather intermediaries in the publication or reward of the claims: printers who might pass on to a third party the knowledge inscribed in a manuscripts they typeset; journal editors or referees who may do the same with the articles they review; or clerks who have the opportunity to claim or leak the inventions contained in the applications that cross their desks. Although the evasive maneuvers that scientists and inventors have been developing to control these risks may appear “secretive,” they are not aimed at keeping knowledge secret, nor are they ascribable to secretive values or professional cultures.

Their aim is to make knowledge public in a way that preserves the scientist’s priority. Such publication-related risks are not merely a problem but a sign of the inescapable predicament of the process of making knowledge public and of attaching technoscientific credit to priority. Tracing the changing articulations of this predicament outlines a genealogy of the concept of scientific priority.

This event is sponsored by CSTMS.
Additional sponsorship comes from:  Office for the History of Science and Technology

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