Hallam StevensJan 31, 2014
Life Out Of Sequence
A Data-Driven History of Bioinformatics
University of Chicago Press 2013
Hallam Stevens's new book is a rich and fascinating ethnographic and historical account of the transformations wrought by integrating statistical and computational methods and materials into the biological sciences. Life Out Of Sequence: A Data-Driven History of Bioinformatics (University of Chicago Press, 2013) follows the data through the physical and virtual spaces from which the "new epistemic things" of bioinformatics have emerged. As computers were introduced into biology, they changed the nature of biological questions. Hallam traces the resulting reshaping of the practices, problems, and objects of biology, guiding readers through the pipeline to watch the transformation from material to digital as biological samples move through computational programs, get translated into ontologies, and become data. The histories of biology, computing, database technology, and bioinformatic imaging all play a role in this wonderfully trans-disciplinary story.