spatiality of e-waste?

by lara

A quick note on a couple of the readings and e-waste. As I was reading these I couldn’t stop thinking about the tie between e-waste and our sense of space. It seems that the proliferation of digital information is the first time in our existence as humans that we our sense of space is completely abstracted from the information we process and have access to.

As Tim Jordan stated, one of the layers we approach the digital sphere (and usually the initial state that approach it) is individually, physically and spatially. As our bodies are abstracted from information, and the contexts it comes from, so are we abstracted from having any sense of how we physically relate to the digital waste we produce. It even seems that the fact that digital information increases ten fold every five years is difficult to relate too because while we can get our heads around what 20,000 tons of garbage looks like, in a sense of physicality what does an exabyte represent?

It seems that one of the difficulties for most in even confronting the issue of digital waste is the fact that for the most part people have no idea what sort of space the digital sphere takes up. We have what is in front of out faces, but not where it goes once it leaves our screens or what becomes of it later- dead links, dead sites, etc? One of our readings mentioned Italo Calvino’s take of the ever expanding barriers of garbage. Only problem is we have no conception of what form those barriers take in the e-sphere.

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1 Comment»

  cindypound wrote @

this is so true. our connection with the physical world – and our physical identities – vanishes at the entry point to the digital world…when we identify our selves with digital monikers and begin to extend our consumption into a virtual sphere whose spatial and material ramifications we don’t see. all of the devices housing this waste – aside from those in our own world of data consumption – those vast server farms that crunch, store, parse and glean all of the data – are generally speaking hidden from our sight. if all the world’s institutional information processing apparatus were exposed to us, how BIG would it actually be? how much space would it fill? i wonder.


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