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The materials library as contact zone – telling (technology) stories with stones 
Maja van der Velden (University of Oslo)
Andrea Gasparini (University of Oslo)
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Combined Format Open Panel

Short Abstract:

Many of the materials in our digital technologies originate from stones containing minerals and metals. What do we know about these stones? What (his)stories can we tell about them? In this workshop, we will build a materials library of stones and stories that may inspire more sustainable futures.

Long Abstract:

Many of the materials of our digital technologies originate from stones (rocks), such as gold, copper, tin, zinc, cobalt, coltan, lithium, etc. There are different ways of knowing them. Geologists know these materials differently than chemists. Anthropologists know them differently than human rights workers. Tech designers know them differently than Indigenous communities. In this workshop, we will together build a materials library for the digital world. It will consist of stones and their (his)stories, creating a contact zone of different ways of knowing the minerals and metals, and their role in the design and life cycle of digital technologies.

Mary Louise Pratt (1991) described contact zones as “the social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power, such as colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out in many parts of the world today”. The materials library we will create together during the workshop may become such a contact zone, in which different disciplines and communities meet, with their different ways of knowing about the many aspects of the extraction of the stones, the processing of their metals and minerals, and their interactions with technology design. When we present our stories in our own words, avoiding unitary language, and share the stones with the other participants, new stories may become possible that may inspire different technology designs and use for more sustainable futures.

We invite contributions in different formats, oral, artistic, creative, slides, histories, short essays or short position papers, etc. We do want every participant to bring an example of the stone (rock) in question. If this is not possible, the convenors of the workshop will try to obtain a sample and bring it to the workshop.

Pratt, M.L. (1991). "Arts of the Contact Zone"

Accepted contributions:

Session 1