Lists as Research Technologies
Isis: international review devoted to the history of science and its cultural influences
University of Chicago Press
© 2012 by The History of Science Society. All rights reserved.
The Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) is famous for having turned botany into a systematic discipline, through his classification systems--most notably the sexual system--and his nomenclature. Throughout his life, Linnaeus experimented with various paper technologies designed to display information synoptically. The list took pride of place among these and is also the common element of more complex representations he produced, such as genera descriptions and his "natural system." Taking clues from the anthropology of writing, this essay seeks to demonstrate that lists can be considered as genuine research technologies. They possess a potential to generate research problems of their own but also pose limitations to inquiries that can be overcome only by the use of new media.
Isis, 2012, Vol. 103, Issue 4, pp. 743 - 752