Sand in the Gears: Notes

Dearest Rashida pointed out this wonderful Ingrid Burrington piece . Below are some of my notes on it.

This is such a great point: “This may or may not be reassuring information. It can conjure scarcity anxiety: we could run out of these precious resources, and then how would our (fraught as it may be) way of life continue? But if the early 21st century’s love affair with tar sands oil teaches us anything, it’s that “running out” of a resource is the wrong question; the question humanity needs to worry about is what devastating environmental and political lengths it is willing to go to in order to not “run out” of a resource.”

Another great point: “To see the world as its grains of sand, and to remain attentive to the networks and systems of this era often means facing ugly truths. Building equity or justice into networked technologies is a perpetually Sisyphean project, but necessarily so.”

In her piece, she partially focuses on sand and how everything around us – from the roads to our digital devices – are an aggregate of various sands. This perspectives reminds me very much of the first chapter from “High Tech Trash” in which the author describes how we are basically sourcing minerals from the earth, turning them into devices for our products, and disposing them once we are done with them. In the disposing process, they either end up in landfills, are scavenged for parts in god awful conditions, or are returned into this mineral form. Essentially, we are moving the Earth’s minerals around and leaving a destructive trail behind. Often times in this process of making something from minerals, there is incredible amounts of waste involved both directly and indirectly. Not all parts of the product are returned to ‘sand’ or to a mineral form that can be used. The next step for me is to find out how much of electronics that are recycled is even ‘recyclable.’ The hazardous chemicals and toxins involved in the making of the electronics render many of the components hazardous for recycling.

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