Issue No. 03 - July-Sept. (2013 vol. 35)
DOI Bookmark: http://doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/MAHC.2013.33
Nathan Ensmenger , Indiana University
The computer industry is built on more than just abstractions, algorithms, and information. Computer power comes at a cost and the physical infrastructure that enables seemingly intangible virtual interactions are resource-intensive, pollution-producing, and potentially damaging to the environment. The typical laptop computer or cell phone has a global life cycle that ranges from rare earth element mines in South America to manufacturing and assembly plants in the factory cities of China, through its transportation and distribution to retail stores and households across America, and finally to its eventual disposal in the slums of West Africa. This article explores the material elements of information technology and argues that historians of computing can help expand the scope of the discipline by addressing issues of concern to the entire global community.
Manufacturing processes, Globalization, Environmental factors, Computers, Semiconductor device manufacture, Ethics
N. Ensmenger, "Computation, Materiality, and the Global Environment," in IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 35, no. 3, pp. 80, 2013.