Environmental Humanities Colloquium: “The Cloud Is a Factory: An Environmental History of Computing”
Nathan Ensmenger, associate professor in the School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering at Indiana University Bloomington, will present, “The Cloud Is a Factory: An Environmental History of Computing,” at 4:30 p.m. Wed., April 17, in East Pyne, Room 111. This is the final talk in the Spring 2019 Environmental Humanities Colloquium.
Ensmenger will focus on the historical relationship between information technology and real-world processes of resource extraction, exchange, management and consumption. People are realizing the environmental impacts of information technology, including the massive amounts of energy and water consumed by data centers whose physicality is camouflaged by the disembodied “cloud.” Ensmenger will explore the life cycle of a unit of Bitcoin, from lithium mines in South America and the factory compounds of southern China, to a “server farm” in the Pacific Northwest and the “computer graveyard” in Agbogbloshie, Ghana.
Series Background: The Environmental Humanities Colloquium sponsored by the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI) aims to build an intellectual community of Princeton scholars and graduate students from all backgrounds whose work is animated by — or intersects with — issues central to the environmental humanities. The Spring 2019 Colloquium is organized by PEI associated faculty members Rachel Price, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese, and Erika Lorraine Milam, professor of history.