A Natural History of Electronics
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: University of Michigan Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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This project did not begin with Sterling’s modest proposal, but it is in no small way interested in the challenge of charting the dead and dying qualities of media technologies, particularly our contemporary electronic technologies. The “paleontological” record of dead electronics is surprisingly extensive and diverse. ...
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Introduction: A Natural History of Electronics
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If you dig down beneath the thin surface crust of Silicon Valley, you will find deep strata of earth and water percolating with errant chemicals. Xylene, trichloroethylene, Freon 113, and sulfuric acid saturate these subterranean landscapes undergirding Silicon Valley. ...
1. Silicon Elephants: The Transformative Materiality of Microchips
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In Palo Alto, California, one can tune the TV set not just to the nightly news and game shows but also to local programming designed to instruct viewers on the finer points of computer systems. A computer system, one such program notes, is comprised of two elements: hardware and software. ...
2. Ephemeral Screens: Exchange at the Interface
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Throughout most of its history, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) conducted the majority of its transactions through the medium of paper. Ticker-tape remainders and other paper scrap that recorded the latest stock quotations circulated and accumulated in the flurry of trading. ...
3. Shipping and Receiving: Circuits of Disposal and the "Social Death" of Electronics
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Electronics eventually circulate toward other spaces of exchange that are situated far beyond those apparently dematerialized interfaces discussed in the last chapter. Electronic technologies that once powered markets reach obsolescence and are discarded. The outdated debris of computer monitors, printers, hard drives, power cords, ...
4. Museum of Failure: The Mutability of Electronic Memory
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In the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, a veritable warehouse of machinery is on display. Here are a Jacquard loom and Hollerith punched card machine, the Cray 7600 supercomputer and the JOHNNIAC. Many of the machines are notable for the contributions they made to the development of computing; ...
5. Media in the Dump: Salvage Stories and Spaces of Remainder
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Having moved through the material and spatial registers of fossilized chips and screens, plastic packaging and electronic memory, this study arrives at the most obdurate, if disparate, aspect of electronic waste—that formless mass of peripherals and scrap, wires and printed circuit boards, ...
Conclusion: Digital Rubbish Theory
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Two waste fantasies occupy the imagination of Kevin Lynch at the beginning of his study Wasting Away. These are opposing fantasies, one involving a “waste cacotopia,” a society that produces waste rampantly and profligately, destroying everything it touches. ...
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Illustrations: 23 color and 2 B&W halftones
Publication Year: 2011