Jennifer Gabrys: Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet (2016)

28 July 2017, dusan

“Sensors are everywhere. Small, flexible, economical, and computationally powerful, they operate ubiquitously in environments. They compile massive amounts of data, including information about air, water, and climate. Never before has such a volume of environmental data been so broadly collected or so widely available.

Grappling with the consequences of wiring our world, Program Earth examines how sensor technologies are programming our environments. As Jennifer Gabrys points out, sensors do not merely record information about an environment. Rather, they generate new environments and environmental relations. At the same time, they give a voice to the entities they monitor: to animals, plants, people, and inanimate objects. This book looks at the ways in which sensors converge with environments to map ecological processes, to track the migration of animals, to check pollutants, to facilitate citizen participation, and to program infrastructure. Through discussing particular instances where sensors are deployed for environmental study and citizen engagement across three areas of environmental sensing, from wild sensing to pollution sensing and urban sensing, Program Earth asks how sensor technologies specifically contribute to new environmental conditions. What are the implications for wiring up environments? How do sensor applications not only program environments, but also program the sorts of citizens and collectives we might become?

Program Earth suggests that the sensor-based monitoring of Earth offers the prospect of making new environments not simply as an extension of the human but rather as new “technogeographies” that connect technology, nature, and people.”

Publisher University of Minnesota Press, 2016
Electronic Mediations series, 49
ISBN 9780816693122, 0816693129
x+357 pages
via publisher

Reviews: Etienne S. Benson (Am J Sociology, 2017), Matthew W. Wilson (Cultural Geographies, 2017).
Interviews: Rorotoko (2016).

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KairUs (eds.): Behind the Smart World: Saving, Deleting and Resurfacing Data (2015)

23 May 2017, dusan

“The smart world. Created by policymakers, the advertising world, creative industries, and persuasive UX-designers that portray to us a world of shiny brand new technologies, apps that solve all our daily problems and smart cities collecting big data that will eventually solve all the problems of human kind. If we take a slightly more critical look at our smart world, though, our shiny gadgets become obsolete faster than ever, turning into toxic e-waste; our apps and smart cities have turned into an effective all-encompassing surveillance apparatus, and we have no idea who is collecting our data, who accesses it, and where it is stored. There may be issues that the smart world can solve, but at the same time, it raises new problems concerning data breaches, data privacy, data ownership and electronic waste. In this publication researchers and artists unfold some of these issues in three parts: Saving Data, Deleting Data and Resurfacing Data. Each part begins with theoretical texts that address some of the concerns, followed by strategies of artists and activists that expose problematic power structures.” (from the Introduction)

Essays by Fieke Jansen (Tactical Tech), Ivar Veermäe, Emilio Vavarella, Leo Selvaggio, Marloes de Valk, Research Team “Times of Waste”, Stefan Tiefengraber, Michael Sonntag; interviews with Audrey Samson and Michaela Lakova.

Edited by Linda Kronman and Andreas Zingerle (KairUs)
Publisher servus.at, Graz, 2015
Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 International License
ISBN 9783950420005
160 pages

Review: Alessandro Ludovico (Neural).

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Mondothèque: A Radiated Book / Un livre irradiant / Een irradiërend boek (2016) [EN, FR, NL]

29 October 2016, dusan

“This Radiated Book started three years ago with an e-mail from the Mundaneum archive center in Mons, Belgium. It announced that Elio di Rupo, then prime minister of Belgium, was about to sign a collaboration agreement between the archive center and Google. The newsletter cited an article in the French newspaper Le Monde that coined the Mundaneum as ‘Google on paper’. It was our first encounter with many variations on the same theme.

The former mining area around Mons is also where Google has installed its largest datacenter in Europe, a result of negotiations by the same Di Rupo. Due to the re-branding of Paul Otlet as ‘founding father of the Internet’, Otlet’s oeuvre finally started to receive international attention. Local politicians wanting to transform the industrial heartland into a home for The Internet Age seized the moment and made the Mundaneum a central node in their campaigns. Google — grateful for discovering its posthumous francophone roots — sent chief evangelist Vint Cerf to the Mundaneum. Meanwhile, the archive center allowed the company to publish hundreds of documents on the website of Google Cultural Institute.

While the visual resemblance between a row of index drawers and a server park might not be a coincidence, it is something else to conflate the type of universalist knowledge project imagined by Paul Otlet and Henri Lafontaine with the enterprise of the search giant. The statement ‘Google on paper’ acted as a provocation, evoking other cases in other places where geographically situated histories are turned into advertising slogans, and cultural infrastructures pushed into the hands of global corporations.

An international band of artists, archivists and activists set out to unravel the many layers of this mesh. The direct comparison between the historical Mundaneum project and the mission of Alphabet Inc speaks of manipulative simplification on multiple levels, but to de-tangle its implications was easier said than done. Some of us were drawn in by misrepresentations of the oeuvre of Otlet himself, others felt the need to give an account of its Brussels’ roots, to re-insert the work of maintenance and caretaking into the his/story of founding fathers, or joined out of concern with the future of cultural institutions and libraries in digital times.” (from the Introduction)

Editorial team: André Castro, Sînziana Păltineanu, Dennis Pohl, Dick Reckard, Natacha Roussel, Femke Snelting, Alexia de Visscher
Publisher Constant, Brussels, Sep 2016
Free Art License 1.3
ISBN 9789081145954, 9081145959
225 pages

Mondothèque project wiki

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