Good and bad news: I have been accepted as part of a panel for AOIR2018 in Montreal, but my own paper was rejected. I’ve decided to share information on both here, and go into my thoughts on the rejection below.
Roundtable Session (accepted):
Digital Materialities and their environmental damages
1Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom; 2University of Illinois at Chicago, USA; 3University of Pennsylvania, USA; 4University of Washington, USA; 5University of Massachusetts Amherst
This session addresses a crucial aspect of transnational materialities, albeit one rarely interrogated within Internet studies: the environmental damages inflicted by digital communication technologies through mining, infrastructures, e-waste, and energy demands to sustain the ever-growing digital data. At present, governments, industries and even sustainability science largely subscribe to what we call “digital solutionism”: digital technologies (smart devices, Apps, on-line environments, Big Data) are overwhelmingly adopted as “game changing” tools of environmentally sustainable practices, failing to address these technologies’ own environmental harms. Internet studies’ insufficient attention to harmful materialities of the digital might partly be the reason for such myopia. Our session aims to remedy that, by setting up a debate that takes place at the intersection of critical environmental and sustainability studies and media/digital cultures/Internet/data studies. We ask:
* How does digital capitalism create new forms of environmental toll, via algorithmic and tracking technologies, accelerating the speed of exchange and extending the reach of distribution of material goods via e-commerce?
* What kind of governance structures and discourses around “innovation” shape the rise of algorithmically controlled agricultural tools? How does that affect the subsequent reinforcement of deleterious environmental policies and institutions?
* What is the role of the increasing material convergence of energy and data futures, in the emergence of cryprocurrency, autonomous vehicles and the Internet of Things?
* What are the harms and implications of oil and pipelines as physical precursors of information economy? What are the relations between mineral extraction, energy consumption and data generation?
* Can we consider digital non-use as a form of resistance if we take into account both humans and animals, affected by the information economy but unable to escape its effects?
* How can we think about digital materialities more responsibly, taking into account both their environmental damages, and such damages’ deeply unequal global distribution?
Paper Proposal (Rejected):
“OIL AND WATER”: RESISTANCE TO PIPELINES AND PARTICIPATORY CULTURE IN THE NORTH AMERICAN TECHNOSPHERE
University of Illinois at Chicago, United States of America
Physical infrastructures parallel and are mimicked by the social infrastructure of information technology. Refusal or resistance to these technics has been framed as an individualist exercise in lifestyle politics but are representative of how new materialisms enforce hegemonic social structures as they are naturalized to our expectations of the world. Using media archaeology and phenomenology, I reveal the parallels between our dependence on the pipeline and the need to be “online” and the potential for a post-colonial critique of infrastructure.