Author Archives: Steven Gonzalez

Steven Gonzalez conducts ethnographic research in IT facilities like server farms to investigate how technicians use their bodies and senses to manage thermodynamic conditions in climate-controlled spaces. Steven intends to tease out through linguistic analysis and participant observation, how cloud computing operators interact with sociotechnical phenomena like heat, cooling, airflow, power and computer servers, to better understand how facets of professional culture may contribute to energy waste. Steven is also interested in the environmental impact of the Cloud and how Anthropologists may be able to advise corporations and state agencies on how professional culture within the Cloud contributes to energy waste. Steven Gonzalez holds a BA in Feminist Anthropology from Keene State College,an MA in Anthropology from Brandeis University and is currently a PhD student in the History, Anthropology, Science, Technology & Society (HASTS) program at MIT.

The Nubecene: Toward an Ecology of the Cloud

Imprints of computing are etched into the surface of the earth. Fugitive traces remain captive in its lithic tissues, its waters, and the very air we breathe. Roiling in the most abyssal depths of the seas, coursing through fiber optic cables thinner than human hairs, the amorphous Cloud and its digital ganglia enshroud our planet. By way of its sheer magnitude and complexity, the Cloud eludes human imagination. It is what Bruno Latour might call a “black box” (1987) – a market fantasy of infinite storage capacity, immateriality, and feel-good “green” slogans like “go paperless.” While envisioned by many to be ether, suspended above matter, the Cloud remains a material ensemble of cables and microchips, computer servers and data centers, electrons and water molecules, cell towers and cell phones, spindly fiber coils undersea and underground that firmly tether communities and consumers to the ground, not the sky. (read more...)