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Philipp Fischer, Gabriele Gramelsberger, ...: Natures of Data

Philipp Fischer, Gabriele Gramelsberger, Christoph Hoffmann, Hans Hofmann, Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, Hannes Rickli

Natures of Data
A Discussion between Biology, History and Philosophy of Science and Art

Softcover, 156 pages

PDF, 156 pages


Dance with the Data

Computer-based technologies for the production and analysis of data have been an integral part of biological research since the 1990s at the latest. This not only applies to genomics and its offshoots but also to less conspicuous subsections such as ecology. But little consideration has been given to how this has changed research practically. How and when do data become questionable? To what extent does the necessary infrastructure influence the research process? What status is given to software and algorithms in the production and analysis of data?


These questions were discussed for two days in September 2016 by the biologists Philipp Fischer und Hans Hofmann, the philosopher Gabriele Gramelsberger, the historian of science and biology Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, the science theorist Christoph Hoffmann, and the artist Hannes Rickli. The conditions of experimentation in the digital sphere are examined in four chapters—“Data,” “Software,” “Infrastructure,” and “in silico”—in which the different perspectives of the discussion partners complement one another. The aim is not to confirm one’s own point of view, but through reciprocal interchange to gain a deepened understanding of the contemporary basis of biological research. 

  • 9–28


  • 31–61


  • 65–93


  • 97–114


  • 117–138

    In silico

  • 141–144

    Experiments, Traces, Data Streams. A Reminiscence

  • 145–147


  • 149–150

    List of Illustrations

  • 151–153


  • art theory
  • biology
  • theory of science
  • history of science
  • art

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Philipp Fischer

is head of the Center for Scientific Diving and the working group Fish Ecology and in situ Technology at the Alfred-Wegener-Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven/Helgoland and Professor of Marine Biology at the Jacobs University at Bremen. His research focus is on fish behavior, fish acoustic, underwater observatories and scientific diving.
Gabriele Gramelsberger

Gabriele Gramelsberger

is Professor for Theory of Science and Technology at the RWTH Aachen University. Her current research focus is on the digitalization of science and research as well as on the machine epistemology of artificial intelligence.

Other texts by Gabriele Gramelsberger for DIAPHANES
Christoph Hoffmann

Christoph Hoffmann

is Professor of Science Studies at the University of Lucerne. His current research focus is on data work in biology and the formation of epistemological concepts and values in academic training.
Other texts by Christoph Hoffmann for DIAPHANES
Hans Hofmann

Hans Hofmann

is Professor of Integrative Biology at The University of Texas at Austin. He is an evolutionary neuroscientist, who uses genomic approaches to uncover the neural and molecular underpinnings of social evolution. He has developed and led several successful training programs in systems neuroscience, computational biology, and bioinformatics.
Hans-Jörg Rheinberger

Hans-Jörg Rheinberger

is Director emeritus at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. His research interests revolve around the practices of experimentation in the sciences and in the arts.

Other texts by Hans-Jörg Rheinberger for DIAPHANES
Hannes Rickli

Hannes Rickli

is a visual artist. He teaches and researches as a Professor at the Zurich University of the Arts. His main focuses are the materiality of the digital, the instrumental use of media and space as well as media ecology.
Other texts by Hannes Rickli for DIAPHANES