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Review of Program Earth (2016)

My review of Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet, by Jennifer Gabrys (2016, Minnesota Press), was published in cultural geographies.

Jennifer Gabrys has created a foundational text for the study of the ‘becoming environmental of computation’ (p. 25), delivering a series of critical interventions with a long shelf-life – beyond the hype and imagery of the space-times of sensor and policy prescriptions. Program Earth is not a list of instructions nor a user’s manual, but a statement on the present moment. Key to these interventions is a re-framing of the post–Cold War imaginary, borne of Earthrise in 1968 – that the planet is not a single system of ecological relations, but multiple worlds borne of a dense mesh of sensors, differentially invoked. The sensing of an environment is more than a relationship based on observation and description. Instead, Gabrys contemplates the ways in which ‘the experiment is generative of modes of experience’ (p. 41). From the selection of entities to observe and measure to the calibration and registers of instrumentation itself, sensors produce the experiences of the environment. [ . . . ]
Wilson, Matthew W. 2016. Review of Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet, by Jennifer Gabrys. cultural geographies. https://doi.org/10.1177/1474474016682347

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