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Thursday, October 11 • 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Digital Materialities and their environmental damages

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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?


Thursday October 11, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Sheraton - Salon 6

Attendees (14)