Data meets electronic waste: practices and temporalities of a transformative encounter
Katrin Amelang (University of Bremen)
Franziska Klaas (University of Bremen)
Paper short abstract:
This talk focuses on the intersection of data and electronic waste handling and highlights data centres as potential hubs of waste accumulation. The data-electronic-waste handling at our university serves as the empirical starting point to dive into the manifold transformations of data_carriers.
Paper long abstract:
There is much concern about data - in public and in scholarly discussions. Less in the spotlight are data carriers, the very basic condition to bring data into existence. But what happens if data or its carrier is considered to be ‚of no use' any longer? What happens when data becomes dispensable and/or the functioning of the data carrier is impaired? Recently, STS researchers have been examining data centres as a means to grasp the slippery tangibility of data and to ground its socio-material constitution. In ecological terms, data centres are commonly framed as energy-wasting facilities. Yet, in this talk we shift the gaze towards another, more neglected waste-problem of data centres: the intertwined existence of electronic and data waste. Engaging with practices and temporalities at the intersection of data and electronic waste, we will highlight data centres as potential hubs of waste accumulation. Here, waste of different kinds comes into being, is handled, and processed. Focusing on the politics and practices of waste in data infrastructures, we approach the death and/or afterlife of data and its carriers. The data-electronic-waste handling at our university serves as the empirical starting point to dive into the manifold transformations of data_carriers: from data to data garbage to e-waste to secondary resources. Distributed responsibilities combined with the simultaneity of trust and ignorance are at heart of negotiations and practices. Caring for data while neglecting e-waste and vice versa is enacted by particular actors at specific times of transformation.
Farming data - collaborations on site