Abstract

ABSTRACT:

From Charles Babbage's Difference Engine (a product of an increasingly global British maritime empire) to Herman Hollerith's tabulating machine (designed to solve the problem of "seeing like a state" in the newly trans-continental American Republic) to the emergence of the modern petrochemical industry, information technologies have always been closely associated with the human desire to understand and manipulate their physical environment. More recently, humankind has started to realize the environmental impacts of information technology, including not only the toxic byproducts associated with their production, but also the polluting effects of the massive amounts of energy and water required by data centers at Google and Facebook (whose physicality is conveniently and deliberately camouflaged behind the disembodied, ethereal "cloud"). This paper grounds the history of information technology in the material world by focusing on the relationship between "computing power" and more traditional processes of resource extraction, exchange, management, and consumption.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1097-3729
Print ISSN
0040-165X
Pages
pp. S7-S33
Launched on MUSE
2018-12-28
Open Access
No
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