For this week’s entry, I will primarily be discussing Edwards’ notions of ‘data friction’ and ‘infrastructural globalism’. From what I understand from his writings on ‘A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming?’, Edwards argues that knowledge as we presently acquire typically consists of an archive of historical data that has been gathered throughout the years.
“Climate knowledge is knowledge about the past. It’s a form of history— the history of weather—and the infrastructure that creates climate knowledge works in the same way that historians work.”
The process involved in forging this information has been coined by Edwards as ‘data friction’. The information that exists out there is interwoven into a complex state of ‘knowledge’, yet we find new ways to develop on this by constantly seeking and converging new information. Therefore the process of ‘data friction’ plays a significant role in making data global, thus shaping our perceptions on reality.
As this information is gathered, it similarly influences ‘infrastructural globalism’. Edwards describes this term as the bringing together of global institutions and the introduction of global ways of thinking about certain things. Associations and conventions are formed to discuss matters concerning this particular ‘knowledge’, and political discussions and debates are raised.
This displays the magnitude of influence ‘data friction’ has upon society. We, as publics, constantly engage with existing data and discover new ways of interpreting it to build on existing knowledge.
In addition to climate change; there are other examples:
Edwards, Paul N. (2010) A Vast Machine Cambridge, MA:MIT Press. Read pages xiii-xxiii (in “The Introduction’) and all of ‘Chapter One’. You can download both of these from <http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=12080&mode=toc>.