Gabrys 2013

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Gabrys, Jennifer. Digital Rubbish: A Natural History of Electronics. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013.

Introduction: A Natural History of Electronics

"Electronics often appear only as 'media,' or as interfaces, apparently lacking in material substance. Yet digital media materialize in distinctive ways -- not just as raw matter, but also as performances of abundance -- often because they are so seemingly immaterial." (2)

"The digital revolution, as it turns out, is littered with rubbish." (2)

"This book raises questions about how to investigate electronic waste as a specifically electronic form of waste. In what ways do electornics pollute, and what are the qualities and dispersions of this pollution?" (3)

"The sedimentary layers of waste consist not only of circuit boards and copper wires, material flows and global economies, but also of technological imaginings, progress narratives, and material temporalities." (3)

Bruce Sterling, dead media; Benjamin, obsolete arcades, drawing on but departing from scientific methods of natural history

"In this natural history of electronics, I take up the suggestive and unconventional natural history method developed by Benamin and extend it -- laterally -0- not as a model to replicate and follow but as a provocation for how to think through the material leftovers of electronics. The natural history method allows for an inquiry into electronics that does not focus on either technological progression or great inventors but, rather, consideres the ways in which electronic technologies fail and decay.;" (6)

"Outmoded commodities are fossilized forms that may -- through their inert persistence -- ultimately unsettle notions of progress and thereby force a reevaluation of the material present. While commodities might guide us to a space of speculative promise, the vestiges of these promises are all around us. These fossils persist in the present even as the assumed progress of history renders them obsolete. Within and through these forms, more complex narratives accumulate, which describe technologies not only as they promise to be but also as they materialize, function, and fall apart." (7)

"This natural history method, then, signals a distinct approach to materiality -- not just as raw stuff, but, rather, as materiality effects." (7)

"In this material method, I attempt to develop a practice of thought that works through cast-off objects in order to take up the density and 'scatter' of electronic materialities. This is a method that, following Benjamin, focuses on the 'micrological and fragmentary,' in order to 'relate them directly, in their isolated singularity, to material tendences and social struggles.'" (8) -- working "across fragments and fossils to material processes and social conditions" (8)

Butler, "sedimented effects"

"Fossils -- the remainders and residues of technology and media -- are, then, potent forms that bear the imprint of eents (both actual and imagined); they are traces of prior lives, events, and ecologies." (10)

not a "society of flows" but "sites of unexpected accumulation" (13)

rubbish theory: ways of dealing with ruins, transience, fragments, and fossils (17)