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The Material Impacts of Virtual Images

Social Media and Digital Cultures Week 11

Sy Taffel

on 18 May 2015

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Transcript of The Material Impacts of Virtual Images

The Material Impacts of Virtual Images
Ecological Cycles
Industrial Production Process
Extraction and Processing
Rare Earth Elements
Geopolitical Concerns
Tailings: contain toxic and radioactive
material which can destroy local crops and environments
Conflict in DRC
According to a study undertaken by the United Nations University, producing a desktop computer and 17inch CRT monitor uses: 240kg of fossil fuels, 22kg of various chemicals and 1500kg of water.

81% of the energy used by a computer during it's entire life cycle is used in producing it only 19% is consumed during operation
In 2007 Gartner Inc, an information technology research and analysis group estimated that the global information and communications technology industry was responsible for around 2% of global anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions

In a report for the EU, IVF (2007) estimated that computers in residential homes consumed 24TWh of electricity, or 3% of the electricity used in the residential sector within the EU
Labour Rights
Outsourced Production
Environmental Justice
Planned and Perceived Obsolescence
Short Life Span
Upgrade Culture
Profit Motive
Sy Taffel
Digital Media & Materiality
Media Ecology as the study of flows of energy and matter in media systems of differing scale
Cradle to Cradle
Open Source Hardware
True solutions to our toxics crisis lie not in recycling wastes downstream, rather in eliminating them through 'green design' upstream.' Puckett 2006:226
Worldwide, about fifty million tons of electronic waste alone is generated per year... [E-waste] usually goes by ship, and isn’t labeled as waste because it’s largely illegal to ship hazardous waste. Instead, corporations and waste management middlemen will falsely label containers, sometimes even as “charitable goods.”
Kostigen 2008
Coffee... Clothing... Cameras? Computers??
Slave/Child Labour
Destruction of National Parks and
Endangered Species such As Grauer's Gorrila
5.4 million deaths
Brominated Flame Retardants
Hydrchloric Acid
Dominant Metaphors:
Virtuality, Immateriality, Informationalism
Interviews reveal that the workers and the general public are completely unaware of the hazards of the materials that are being processed and the toxins they contain. There is no proper regulatory authority to oversee or control the pollution nor the occupational exposures to the toxins in the waste. Because of the general poverty people are forced to work in these hazardous conditions
Basel Action Network and Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition 2002
Manufacturing a 2010 21.5-inch iMac produces 720kg Co2e (Berners-Lee 2010)
Full transcript