Disclosing/Enclosing: The Paradoxes of Information Flow in Knowledge Communities

by Linda Hogle

Congratulations to our 2016 Summer School Students!
21 Students from 6 countries attended the Summer School from July 10-15, 2016.

The “Disclosing/Enclosing” Research Theme held a Summer School July 10-15, 2016.  Our students were outstanding, and ranged from neuroscience and medicine to environmental science, geography, philosophy, history and more. Ultimately, 21 attendees from six countries completed the course. Our primary aim for the School was to draw attention to Science and Technology Studies at UW, both within and outside the university, to foster interdisciplinary learning, and to provide opportunities for early-stage graduate students new to STS or those who had few STS resources at their home institutions, in addition to students who wanted to delve more deeply into STS concepts with an interdisciplinary group.

Our guest and UW faculty included (from left to right): Stefan Timmermans, Linda Hogle, Pilar Ossorio, Sergio Sismondo, Nicole Nelson, Stephen Hilgartner, and Kris Saha

organizing and visiting faculty2

Disclosing/Enclosing is a thematic cluster funded by the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies designed to build connections across disciplines and forge new intellectual directions in STS research at UW Madison. We aim to deepen STS scholarship using a cross-cutting theme of enclosures and disclosures among knowledge communities to capture the best of STS thinking from an interdisciplinary group of scholars across the campus, including life and physical scientists. Find out more about the theme here.

About the Theme
Schedule of Events
Faculty Working Group
About Us

About the theme: 

A curious feature of knowledge societies is that producing more data does not always result in less uncertainty, and the circulation of information may obscure some facts even as it reveals and amplifies others. “Unknowing” can be an important part of producing knowledge: there are times when scientists and others do not know, do not want to know, should not know, or actively unknow things. Scientists, policy-makers, ethicists, laypersons, and advocacy groups alike attempt to manage the flow of facts, techniques, and materials by sequestering, containing, or merely highlighting certain facets. Yet despite their best efforts at controlling the distribution of knowledge, there are also unanticipated leaks, diversions, and revelations. Imperatives for transparency and the ‘right to know’ may also come into direct conflict with intended ‘protections’, as demonstrated by controversies over the sequestering of knowledge through intellectual property regimes or governmental suppression of data for political purposes.


Disclosing/Enclosing cluster will investigate these paradoxes of information flow through the lens of enclosures and disclosures of knowledge. Developments in the life, physical, and information sciences and technologies create new ontologies which do not sit easily within existing institutions, hierarchies of expertise and classifications, and defy the logics of existing legal-political categories. These increasingly complex institutions and forms of knowledge production require analytical frameworks that go beyond debates about “open/closed” science or normative judgments about the value of knowledge capture. Instead, we aim to examine regimes of secrecy and openness, the flow of information in historical, social and political contexts, and the instrumental uses of concepts such as ‘privacy’: what is hidden, channeled, protected, and accessible or not to whom and for what purposes? By what means and by what authority is knowledge obscured or made visible?



Schedule of Events:


Past Events

*July 10-15, 2016

Summer school for STS graduate students.


*April 22, 2016 (Time and Place TBD)

Natasha Schull (M.I.T.)


*April 1, 2016 (3:30 PM Refreshments/3:45 PM Lecture, Memorial Library Special Collections 976)

The Removal of Language: A History

Daniel Rosenberg, Ph.D. (Oregon U), Co-Author Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline


*March 10, 2016 (4:00 PM, Researcher’s Link in Wisconsin Institute for Discovery)

Data Journeys in Biology: Openness and Shadows

Sabina Leonelli, Ph.D. (Exeter U), Author “What Counts as Scientific Data? A Relational Framework”

More Information

Dr. Leonelli will also be attending the Data Discussion group at 12:00 PM to informally discuss a chapter from her upcoming book. Contact Sai Suryanarayanan for details.



*January 11, 2016

Deadline for applications to July 2016 STS Summer School


*December 3, 2015 (4 PM, Social Sciences 8417)

Platforms Deep and Broad

Tarleton Gillespie, Ph.D. (Cornell U), Author “Can An Algorithm Be Wrong?”


*October 15, 2015 (Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 12:00-5:00 PM)

Privacy Matters

Discussion and commentary in conjunction with the symposium, “Big Privacy: Policy Meets Data Science,” hosted by the Center for Computational Phenotyping and the Morgridge Institute for Research. Flyer.

Background Reading:
Privacy in PharmacogeneticsFredrikson et. al
Big Data’s Run Around Anonymity and Consent. Barocas and Nissenbaum.


*October 15, 2015 (Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery Room #1170 5:15-6:15 PM)

Post Symposium Discussion.


*October 2, 2015 (2:00 PM, Room TBD)

Privacy Working Group meeting. Reading: Barocas & Selbst. Big Data’s Disparate Impact.


*September 24, 2015 (Social Sciences 8417, 4:00 PM)

On the Co-production of Epistemic and Organizational Innovation: Translational Research in Oncology

Alberto Cambrosio, Ph.D. (McGill U), co-author of Cancer on Trial: Oncology as a New Style of Practice


*September 23, 2015 (6:30 PM, contact Lyn MacGregor, lmacgreg@ssc.wisc.edu , for reading and directions)

Book discussion and dinner with Alberto Cambrosio. Please RSVP to Julia Tabat, jtabat@wisc.edu.


*Thursday, April 30th, 2015 — 3:30 PM — 4:00 PM (Room 8417/8411 Social Science)

Undergraduate Essay Contest Reception

Undergraduate Essay Contest Winners. Left to Right: Brianna Knudtson (Honorable Mention), Hannah Abkik (First Place), Joey Cryer (Honorable Mention)

Undergraduate Essay Contest Winners. Left to Right: Brianna Knudtson (Honorable Mention), Hannah Akbik (First Place), Joel Cryer (Honorable Mention)

Left to Right: Linda Hogle, Nicole Nelson, First prize winner Hannah Akbik, Pilar Ossorio and Holtz Center Director Eric Schatzberg

Left to Right: Linda Hogle, Nicole Nelson, First prize winner Hannah Akbik, Pilar Ossorio and Holtz Center Director Eric Schatzberg

Holtz Staff with first place winner Hannah Abkik

Disclosing/Enclosing Cluster members with first place winner Hannah Abkik

Reception and award ceremony for the undergraduates who submitted entries to our spring essay contest.

Hannah Akbik (Communication Arts) won first prize. Her essay on personal fitness technologies reflected on her own experiences using a FitBit, and how the biometric information that the technology suddenly made visible to her shaped her behavior and sense of self.

Brianna Knudtson (Agronomy, Global Health & Environmental Studies) received an honorable mention for her essay on her personal choices about revealing and concealing information on social media, and larger political implications of the selective revelation of information.

Joel Cryer (Biological Systems Engineering) received an honorable mention for his essay on the dynamics of revelation and concealment in the invention and marketing of new technologies, and how these dynamics shape his own practices as an aspiring inventor.


* Wednesday, April 29, 2015 – 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM (354 Agriculture Hall)

Third Meeting, Privacy Working Group.

Samer Alatout will follow-up on Louise Amoore’s talk and lead a discussion about security. Reading: Louise Amoore, “Security and the Incalculable”


* April 9-10, 2015

Conference: Secrecy and Transparency

This event was hosted by the iSchool (School of Library and Information Studies).  A breakout session was planned on a topic selected by the Faculty Working Group. Further information.


*April 10, 2015 – 12:00 – 1:30 PM, 8411 Social Sciences

Lunch with Louise Amoore

Informal discussion following Louise’s talk.


* April 9, 2015 – 4:00 PM, 8417 Social Sciences

On the Authority of the Algorithm

Louise Amoore, Ph.D. (Durham U), Author of The Politics of Possibility: Risk and

Security Beyond Probability.



*March 5, 2015 – 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM, 1170 Discovery Building

Meeting: Privacy Working Group

The privacy group had its second meeting. The readings were excerpts from Helen Nissenbaum’s 2010 book “Privacy in Context.” Chapter 4 is an overview of the philosophical literature on privacy, chapter 7 describes her view, and the document labeled “DH” is a decision heuristic outline from elsewhere in the book that provides a handy outline. They are all in a Box folder here: https://uwmadison.box.com/s/zq8dhdj17s23ew620uftmaco1obq7fd7

Two other articles that may be of interest are posted below. The first is the entry for “Privacy,” written by Judith DeCew. The other is “Privacy and Information Technology,” written by several folks at Delft.





*January 29, 2015 – 4:30 PM, Union South (Room TBD)

First Meeting: Privacy Working Group

Several people at the reception expressed an interest in working on
projects related to information flows and privacy. This included anything
from the history of medical confidentiality to concepts of the term itself in
many science and technology domains, and its legal and social implications. Alan
Rubel and Linda Hogle organized a meeting to gather ideas for potential research collaborations and other activities, including reading/writing group sessions, etc. Please email Alan at arubel@wisc.edu if you are interested in learning more.


* November 14, 2014
Organizational Meetings of New Nodes. Faculty Working Group members met to discuss topics of interest from the reception, as well as to plan future activities and reading groups.

* October 28, 2014 – 4:30-6:30 PM, Discovery Building


The reception to launch the new theme was a great success, with some great ideas being generated! Faculty and students from the following departments attended: Bioinformatics, Medical History and Bioethics, Journalism & Mass Communications, School of Library & Information Sciences, Psychology, Community & Environmental Sociology, Art, LaFollette School of Public Policy, History of Science, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Legal Studies, Forest and Wildlife Ecology, Anthropology, English, Rhetoric Program, Information Technology, 4D Arts, Pediatrics, Life Sciences Communications, Sociology, Law School, and Pharmacy. We discussed the aims of the research theme, informed everyone of upcoming events, and attendees posted comments and topics they would like to pursue related to the theme of information flows. A list of suggested topics and nodes for research can be found here.

reception2 reception table discussion reception 1 Kristen and Molly   


* October 7, 2014 – 6:30pm, Fitchburg (RSVP requested)

Dinner and discussion of a draft chapter from Reordering Life: Knowledge and Control in the World of the Genome with Stephen Hilgartner, Ph.D., Department of Science and Technology Studies, Cornell University. Please RSVP via email to Lyn Macgregor (lmacgreg@ssc.wisc.edu) to receive the article and details on event location.

Badger Herald article about Stephen Hiltgarner‘s Lecture Series


* October 2, 2014 – 4pm, 8417 Social Sciences Building

Capturing the Imaginary: Vanguards, Visions, and the Synthetic Biology Revolution. 

Stephen Hilgartner, Ph.D., Department of Science and Technology Studies, Cornell University. Lecture co-hosted by the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies


* September 30, 2014 – 4pm, Engineering Hall Room 1610

Imagining Social and Technological Change: Visions of Synthetic Biology, the Bioeconomy, and the Future.

Stephen Hilgartner, Ph.D., Department of Science and Technology Studies, Cornell University. Lecture hosted by the Chemical and Biological Engineering seminar series.


* September 24, 2014 – 4-5:30pm, WID (Discovery Building)

Diagnostic Algorithms in Post-Genomic Medicine: Enclosing Clinical Decision-making?

Journal club discussion. Please email Nicole Nelson at ncnelson@wisc.edu for the pre-circulated article. This event is being held as a breakout session of the symposium “When is an Algorithm a Medical Device?” hosted by the Morgridge Institute for Research.



Faculty working group:

The Disclosing/Enclosing theme cluster is designed to develop interdisciplinary exchanges and thinking around the problem of enclosures and disclosures of knowledge. We aim to identify faculty and students at UW with relevant interests and expertise to build a foundation of knowledge with which to contribute to existing and new courses, and to identify potential collaborative projects for which to seek extramural funding. To help in leading these activities, we have a diverse and skilled Faculty Working Group from all across the campus:

Laurie Beth Clark

Kristin R. Eschenfelder

Lucas Graves

Jenell M. Johnson

Jon V. McKenzie

Gregory F. Nemet

David Page

Shiela I. Reaves

Bas Rokers

Alan P. Rubel

Michael Vanden Heuvel

Paul P. Wilson

About us: 

Disclosing/Enclosing leaders:

Linda Hogle is a Professor of Medical Social Sciences and member of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. Her research interests include stem cell and tissue engineering policy and ethics; socio-cultural, political and ethical issues in emerging biomedical engineering technologies; and, transnational issues in governance of novel technologies.

lfhogle@wisc.edu; Tel. 608-263-6954


Nicole Nelson is an Assistant Professor in the History of Science department. Her research investigates the social dimensions of biomedical knowledge production, especially genetic knowledge. Using ethnographic and qualitative methods, she investigates how genetic explanations of human disorders such as cancer and alcoholism are produced, circulated, and change over time.

ncnelson@wisc.edu; Tel. 1-608-262-3492


Pilar Ossorio is Professor of Law and Bioethics where she is on the faculties of the Law School and the Department of Medical History and Bioethics at the Medical School. In 2011 she became the inaugural Ethics Scholar-in-Residence at the Morgridge Institute for Research, the private, nonprofit research institute that is part of the Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery. She also serves as the co-director of UW’s Law and Neuroscience Program, as a faculty member in the UW Masters in Biotechnology Studies program, and as Program Faculty in the Graduate Program in Population Health. Prior to taking her position at UW, she was Director of the Genetics Section of the Institute for Ethics at the American Medical Association, and taught as adjunct faculty at the University of Chicago Law School.

pnossorio@wisc.edu; Tel. 608-263-4387


Krishanu Saha is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also a member of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery in the bionanocomposite tissue engineering scaffolds theme. In 2007 he became a Society in Science: Branco-Weiss fellow in the laboratory of Professor Rudolf Jaenisch at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at MIT and in the Science and Technology Studies program at Harvard University with Professor Sheila Jasanoff in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since then, he has performed research on human pluripotent stem cells, disease modeling and synthetic biology.

ksaha@wisc.edu; Tel. 1-608-316-4313

Kris and NicoleLinda and Pilar


Left to Right: Kris Saha, Nicole Nelson, Linda Hogle and Pilar Ossorio

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