Boundary Objects

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Boundary objects are an idea from the sociology of science. They are about how people use ambiguous nouns – or things – to coordinate the work of people with different backgrounds and interests (like, say, programmers and product owners).
The episode builds from the paper “Institutional Ecology, 'Translations', and Boundary Objects: Amateurs and Professionals in Berkeley's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, 1907-1939”. It contains a brief history of how biology was changing around 1907, how scientists and collectors collaborated using "boundary objects", and how acceptance tests can be seen as boundary objects. It ends with some heretical thoughts about business alignment.

Later: preparing for episode 21, I found that Étienne Wenger has some useful things to say about boundary objects in his Communities of Practice. I wrote a short summary on my blog.


Thanks to Randy Clayton and Dawn Marick for advice about the script.
Elephant image by Nikhil Bombatkar, licensed CC0 - Free to Use, Attribution Optional

Boundary Objects
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