Value Oscillation in Knowledge Infrastructure: Observing its Dynamic in Japan’s Drug Discovery Pipeline
This paper analyses the dynamics of assigned values in two cases relating to the knowledge infrastructure of the national programme in Japan that develops drug discovery: in establishing a database of natural product compounds and in constructing a library of virtual compounds. The concepts of value oscillation and of the M-B (Marx-Bowker) index are proposed to designate the fluctuating appreciation of infrastructure value by its builders. These concepts combine insights from classical Marxist thought on the infrastructure/superstructure distinction (neglected in recent studies on infrastructure in STS) and Bowker’s infrastructural inversion. Though value oscillation is almost ubiquitous in the development of any infrastructure, in the cases considered here, it takes peculiar forms because of the complex interaction of the material and knowledge infrastructures. It is widely distributed in the sub-layers that support the autonomy of these knowledge infrastructures and is a precondition for knowledge infrastructures to function as delineated entities.
Keywords: value, infrastructure, drug discovery, oscillation, structure