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A Vast Machine

A Vast Machine Author Paul N. Edwards
ISBN-10 9780262290715
Release 2010-03-12
Pages 546
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Global warming skeptics often fall back on the argument that the scientific case for global warming is all model predictions, nothing but simulation; they warn us that we need to wait for real data, "sound science." In A Vast Machine Paul Edwards has news for these skeptics: without models, there are no data. Today, no collection of signals or observations -- even from satellites, which can "see" the whole planet with a single instrument -- becomes global in time and space without passing through a series of data models. Everything we know about the world's climate we know through models. Edwards offers an engaging and innovative history of how scientists learned to understand the atmosphere -- to measure it, trace its past, and model its future.



A Vast Machine

A Vast Machine Author Paul N. Edwards
ISBN-10 0262013924
Release 2010
Pages 518
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The science behind global warming, and its history: how scientists learned tounderstand the atmosphere, to measure it, to trace its past, and to model its future.



Changing Life

Changing Life Author Peter J. Taylor
ISBN-10 0816630135
Release 1997
Pages 230
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In laboratories all over the world, life -- even the idea of life -- is changing. And with these changes, whether they result in square tomatoes or cyborgs, come transformations in our social order -- sometimes welcome, sometimes troubling. Changing Life offers a close look at how the mutable forms and concepts of life link the processes of science to those of information, finance, and commodities. These essays -- about planetary management and genome sequencing, ecologies and cyborgs -- address actual and imagined transformations at the center and at the margins of transnational relations, during the post-Cold War era and in times to come.



Standards

Standards Author Lawrence Busch
ISBN-10 9780262016384
Release 2011
Pages 390
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This book investigates standards as the recipes that shape not only the physical world, but human social interactions. The author outlines the history of formal standards and describes how modern science came to be associated with the moral-technical project of standardization of both people and things. The author also explores how standards are intimately connected to power, empowering some but disempowering others.



Arming Mother Nature

Arming Mother Nature Author Jacob Darwin Hamblin
ISBN-10 9780199911592
Release 2013-04-04
Pages 320
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When most Americans think of environmentalism, they think of the political left, of vegans dressed in organic-hemp fabric, lofting protest signs. In reality, writes Jacob Darwin Hamblin, the movement--and its dire predictions--owe more to the Pentagon than the counterculture. In Arming Mother Nature, Hamblin argues that military planning for World War III essentially created "catastrophic environmentalism": the idea that human activity might cause global natural disasters. This awareness, Hamblin shows, emerged out of dark ambitions, as governments poured funds into environmental science after World War II, searching for ways to harness natural processes--to kill millions of people. Proposals included the use of nuclear weapons to create artificial tsunamis or melt the ice caps to drown coastal cities; setting fire to vast expanses of vegetation; and changing local climates. Oxford botanists advised British generals on how to destroy enemy crops during the war in Malaya; American scientists attempted to alter the weather in Vietnam. This work raised questions that went beyond the goal of weaponizing nature. By the 1980s, the C.I.A. was studying the likely effects of global warming on Soviet harvests. "Perhaps one of the surprises of this book is not how little was known about environmental change, but rather how much," Hamblin writes. Driven initially by strategic imperatives, Cold War scientists learned to think globally and to grasp humanity's power to alter the environment. "We know how we can modify the ionosphere," nuclear physicist Edward Teller proudly stated. "We have already done it." Teller never repented. But many of the same individuals and institutions that helped the Pentagon later warned of global warming and other potential disasters. Brilliantly argued and deeply researched, Arming Mother Nature changes our understanding of the history of the Cold War and the birth of modern environmental science.



Refining Expertise

Refining Expertise Author Gwen Ottinger
ISBN-10 9780814762615
Release 2013-03-04
Pages 240
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Winner of the 2015 Rachel Carson Prize presented by the Society for Social Studies of Science Residents of a small Louisiana town were sure that the oil refinery next door was making them sick. As part of a campaign demanding relocation away from the refinery, they collected scientific data to prove it. Their campaign ended with a settlement agreement that addressed many of their grievances—but not concerns about their health. Yet, instead of continuing to collect data, residents began to let refinery scientists' assertions that their operations did not harm them stand without challenge. What makes a community move so suddenly from actively challenging to apparently accepting experts' authority? Refining Expertise argues that the answer lies in the way that refinery scientists and engineers defined themselves as experts. Rather than claiming to be infallible, they began to portray themselves as responsible—committed to operating safely and to contributing to the well-being of the community. The volume shows that by grounding their claims to responsibility in influential ideas from the larger culture about what makes good citizens, nice communities, and moral companies, refinery scientists made it much harder for residents to challenge their expertise and thus re-established their authority over scientific questions related to the refinery's health and environmental effects. Gwen Ottinger here shows how industrial facilities' current approaches to dealing with concerned communities—approaches which leave much room for negotiation while shielding industry's environmental and health claims from critique—effectively undermine not only individual grassroots campaigns but also environmental justice activism and far-reaching efforts to democratize science. This work drives home the need for both activists and politically engaged scholars to reconfigure their own activities in response, in order to advance community health and robust scientific knowledge about it.



The Politics of Invisibility

The Politics of Invisibility Author Olga Kuchinskaya
ISBN-10 9780262027694
Release 2014-08-08
Pages 264
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Before Fukushima, the most notorious large-scale nuclear accident the world had seen was Chernobyl in 1986. The fallout from Chernobyl covered vast areas in the Northern Hemisphere, especially in Europe. Belarus, at the time a Soviet republic, suffered heavily: nearly a quarter of its territory was covered with long-lasting radionuclides. Yet the damage from the massive fallout was largely imperceptible; contaminated communities looked exactly like noncontaminated ones. It could be known only through constructed representations of it. In The Politics of Invisibility, Olga Kuchinskaya explores how we know what we know about Chernobyl, describing how the consequences of a nuclear accident were made invisible. Her analysis sheds valuable light on how we deal with other modern hazards -- toxins or global warming -- that are largely imperceptible to the human senses.Kuchinskaya describes the production of invisibility of Chernobyl's consequences in Belarus -- practices that limit public attention to radiation and make its health effects impossible to observe. Just as mitigating radiological contamination requires infrastructural solutions, she argues, the production and propagation of invisibility also involves infrastructural efforts, from redefining the scope and nature of the accident's consequences to reshaping research and protection practices. Kuchinskaya finds vast fluctuations in recognition, tracing varyingly successful efforts to conceal or reveal Chernobyl's consequences at different levels -- among affected populations, scientists, government, media, and international organizations. The production of invisibility, she argues, is a function of power relations.



Inventing Atmospheric Science

Inventing Atmospheric Science Author James Rodger Fleming
ISBN-10 9780262033947
Release 2016-02-05
Pages 312
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How scientists used transformative new technologies to understand the complexities of weather and the atmosphere, told through the intertwined careers of three key figures.



A Forest on the Sea

A Forest on the Sea Author Karl Appuhn
ISBN-10 9780801892615
Release 2009-12-09
Pages 361
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Wood was essential to the survival of the Venetian Republic. To build its great naval and merchant ships, maintain its extensive levee system, construct buildings, fuel industries, and heat homes, Venice needed access to large quantities of oak and beech timber. The island city itself was devoid of any forests, so the state turned to its mainland holdings for this vital resource. A Forest on the Sea explores the history of this enterprise and Venice’s efforts to extend state control over its natural resources. Karl Appuhn explains how Venice went from an isolated city completely dependent on foreign suppliers for wood to a regional state with a sophisticated system of administering and preserving forests. Intent on conserving this invaluable resource, Venice employed specialized experts to manage its forests. The state bureaucracy supervised this work, developing a philosophy about the environment—namely, a mutual dependence between humans and the natural world—that was far ahead of its time. Its efforts kept many large forest preserves under state protection, some of which still stand today. A Forest on the Sea offers a completely novel perspective on how Renaissance Europeans thought about the natural world. It sheds new light on how cultural conceptions about nature influenced political policies for resource conservation and land management in Venice.



System

System Author Clifford Siskin
ISBN-10 9780262336352
Release 2016-10-07
Pages 336
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A system can describe what we see (the solar system), operate a computer (Windows 10), or be made on a page (the fourteen engineered lines of a sonnet). In this book, Clifford Siskin shows that system is best understood as a genre -- a form that works physically in the world to mediate our efforts to understand it. Indeed, many Enlightenment authors published works they called "system" to compete with the essay and the treatise. Drawing on the history of system from Galileo's "message from the stars" and Newton's "system of the world" to today's "computational universe," Siskin illuminates the role that the genre of system has played in the shaping and reshaping of modern knowledge. Previous engagements with systems have involved making them, using them, or imagining better ones. Siskin offers an innovative perspective by investigating system itself. He considers the past and present, moving from the "system of the world" to "a world full of systems." He traces the turn to system in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and describes this primary form of Enlightenment as a mediator of political, cultural, and social modernity -- pointing to the moment when people began to "blame the system" for working both too well ("you can't beat the system") and not well enough (it always seems to "break down"). Throughout, his touchstones are: what system is and how it has changed; how it has mediated knowledge; and how it has worked in the world.



The Sense of Dissonance

The Sense of Dissonance Author David Stark
ISBN-10 1400831008
Release 2011-08-01
Pages 264
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What counts? In work, as in other areas of life, it is not always clear what standards we are being judged by or how our worth is being determined. This can be disorienting and disconcerting. Because of this, many organizations devote considerable resources to limiting and clarifying the logics used for evaluating worth. But as David Stark argues, firms would often be better off, especially in managing change, if they allowed multiple logics of worth and did not necessarily discourage uncertainty. In fact, in many cases multiple orders of worth are unavoidable, so organizations and firms should learn to harness the benefits of such "heterarchy" rather than seeking to purge it. Stark makes this argument with ethnographic case studies of three companies attempting to cope with rapid change: a machine-tool company in late and postcommunist Hungary, a new-media startup in New York during and after the collapse of the Internet bubble, and a Wall Street investment bank whose trading room was destroyed on 9/11. In each case, the friction of competing criteria of worth promoted an organizational reflexivity that made it easier for the company to change and deal with market uncertainty. Drawing on John Dewey's notion that "perplexing situations" provide opportunities for innovative inquiry, Stark argues that the dissonance of diverse principles can lead to discovery.



Beyond the Big Ditch

Beyond the Big Ditch Author Ashley Carse
ISBN-10 9780262028110
Release 2014-10-24
Pages 320
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In this innovative book, Ashley Carse traces the water that flows into and out from the Panama Canal to explain how global shipping is entangled with Panama's cultural and physical landscapes. By following container ships as they travel downstream along maritime routes and tracing rivers upstream across the populated watershed that feeds the canal, he explores the politics of environmental management around a waterway that links faraway ports and markets to nearby farms, forests, cities, and rural communities. Carse draws on a wide range of ethnographic and archival material to show the social and ecological implications of transportation across Panama. The Canal moves ships over an aquatic staircase of locks that demand an enormous amount of fresh water from the surrounding region. Each passing ship drains 52 million gallons out to sea -- a volume comparable to the daily water use of half a million Panamanians. Infrastructures like the Panama Canal, Carse argues, do not simply conquer nature; they rework ecologies in ways that serve specific political and economic priorities. Interweaving histories that range from the depopulation of the U.S. Canal Zone a century ago to road construction conflicts and water hyacinth invasions in canal waters, the book illuminates the human and nonhuman actors that have come together at the margins of the famous trade route. 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal. Beyond the Big Ditch calls us to consider how infrastructures are materially embedded in place, producing environments with winners and losers.



Imagined Democracies

Imagined Democracies Author Yaron Ezrahi
ISBN-10 9781139577069
Release 2012-10-15
Pages
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This book proposes a revisionist approach to democratic politics. Yaron Ezrahi focuses on the creative unconscious collective imagination that generates ever-changing visions of legitimate power and authority, which compete for enactment and institutionalization in the political arena. If, in the past, political authority was grounded in fictions such as the divine right of kings, the laws of nature, historical determinism and scientism, today the space of democratic politics is filled with multiple alternative social imaginaries of the desirable political order. Exposure to electronic mass media has made contemporary democratic publics more aware that credible popular fictions have greater impact on shaping our political realities than do rational social choices or moral arguments. The pressing political question in contemporary democracy is, therefore, how to select and enact political fictions that promote peace and how to found the political order on checks and balances between alternative political imaginaries of freedom and justice.



The Closed World

The Closed World Author Paul N. Edwards
ISBN-10 0262550288
Release 1997
Pages 440
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The Closed World offers a radically new alternative to the canonical histories of computers and cognitive science. Arguing that we can make sense of computers as tools only when we simultaneously grasp their roles as metaphors and political icons, Paul Edwards shows how Cold War social and cultural contexts shaped emerging computer technology -- and were transformed, in turn, by information machines. The Closed World explores three apparently disparate histories -- the history of American global power, the history of computing machines, and the history of subjectivity in science and culture -- through the lens of the American political imagination. In the process, it reveals intimate links between the military projects of the Cold War, the evolution of digital computers, and the origins of cybernetics, cognitive psychology, and artificial intelligence. Edwards begins by describing the emergence of a "closed-world discourse" of global surveillance and control through high-technology military power. The Cold War political goal of "containment" led to the SAGE continental air defense system, Rand Corporation studies of nuclear strategy, and the advanced technologies of the Vietnam War. These and other centralized, computerized military command and control projects -- for containing world-scale conflicts -- helped closed-world discourse dominate Cold War political decisions. Their apotheosis was the Reagan-era plan for a " Star Wars" space-based ballistic missile defense. Edwards then shows how these military projects helped computers become axial metaphors in psychological theory. Analyzing the Macy Conferences on cybernetics, the Harvard Psycho-Acoustic Laboratory, and the early history of artificial intelligence, he describes the formation of a "cyborg discourse." By constructing both human minds and artificial intelligences as information machines, cyborg discourse assisted in integrating people into the hyper-complex technological systems of the closed world. Finally, Edwards explores the cyborg as political identity in science fiction -- from the disembodied, panoptic AI of 2001: A Space Odyssey, to the mechanical robots of Star Wars and the engineered biological androids of Blade Runner -- where Information Age culture and subjectivity were both reflected and constructed. Inside Technology series



Governing Climate Change

Governing Climate Change Author Harriet Bulkeley
ISBN-10 9781317635550
Release 2015-06-02
Pages 180
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Governing Climate Change, Second Edition, provides a short and accessible introduction to how climate change is governed by an increasingly diverse range of actors, from civil society and market actors to multilateral development banks, donors, and cities. This updated edition also includes: up-to-date coverage of the negotiations post-Copenhagen (Cancun, Durban, and towards Paris) and some of the shifts in the inter-governmental politics; a deeper discussion of the roles of actors that have come to prominence in the climate negotiations; an overview of the key funding mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund, Adaptation Fund, the High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Finance, and REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation); a direct assessment of what the proliferation of TCCG (Transnational Climate Change Governance) adds up to in terms of legitimacy, effectiveness etc., drawing on all the recent research in this area; an analysis of renewable energy in the UK (in the light of recent controversies around the siting of wind turbines and fracking projects). Providing an interdisciplinary perspective drawing on geography, politics, international relations, and development studies, this book is essential reading for students and scholars concerned not only with the climate governance but with the future of the environment in general.



The Container Principle

The Container Principle Author Alexander Klose
ISBN-10 9780262028578
Release 2015-02-27
Pages 416
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A cultural history of the shipping container as a crucible of globalization and a cultural paradigm.



Raw Data Is an Oxymoron

 Raw Data  Is an Oxymoron Author Lisa Gitelman
ISBN-10 9780262312332
Release 2013-01-25
Pages 192
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We live in the era of Big Data, with storage and transmission capacity measured not just in terabytes but in petabytes (where peta- denotes a quadrillion, or a thousand trillion). Data collection is constant and even insidious, with every click and every "like" stored somewhere for something. This book reminds us that data is anything but "raw," that we shouldn't think of data as a natural resource but as a cultural one that needs to be generated, protected, and interpreted. The book's essays describe eight episodes in the history of data from the predigital to the digital. Together they address such issues as the ways that different kinds of data and different domains of inquiry are mutually defining; how data are variously "cooked" in the processes of their collection and use; and conflicts over what can -- or can't -- be "reduced" to data. Contributors discuss the intellectual history of data as a concept; describe early financial modeling and some unusual sources for astronomical data; discover the prehistory of the database in newspaper clippings and index cards; and consider contemporary "dataveillance" of our online habits as well as the complexity of scientific data curation. Essay authors:Geoffrey C. Bowker, Kevin R. Brine, Ellen Gruber Garvey, Lisa Gitelman, Steven J. Jackson, Virginia Jackson, Markus Krajewski, Mary Poovey, Rita Raley, David Ribes, Daniel Rosenberg, Matthew Stanley, Travis D. Williams