What part do I play?

In this week’s readings Parikka and Sterne discuss materiality, waste and technology in interesting ways and I identify with their work in different ways. Parikka highlights some compelling points about the need for the materiality of the media to be taken literally and I find that I agree with his position. Taking a quick mental count I own more than a dozen media devices and I cannot recall ever considering the processes related to “mining, processing and standardizing minerals and other rare earth materials” (Parikka, 2011) that make up the devices I personally own. Parikka and Sterne both discuss this idea of media products and computers being reclassified or value exhausted which leads to other kinds of processes. Relating this same train of thought to Sterne’s article, I too own a computer that has been reclassified as obsolete and over the course of several years has fallen into misuse. I find this fact particularly compelling because I still have this computer, a 12-inch dell laptop I received as a high school graduation gift, and it is stored in a random box somewhere in my parent’s house in California.

I am very intrigued with the ways they both discuss the ways that people get rid of or ‘recycle’ their media devices or computers and I appreciate Parikka’s explanation about the edited collections of writings and Sterne’s thoughts on who is responsible for obsolete or useless computers and the impact those computers have on a larger scale. Parikka’s explanation essentially connects the management of media devices, global capitalism, limited natural resources, politics, human labor and new ways to create, while Sterne looks at computer trash as being responsible for the ways we view digital media as new media.

After reading these I cannot help but feel that I have been missing the big picture regarding media devices because they do not become what they are simply because I purchase and use them with digital technologies, the process of their materiality begins much sooner than that. I also find myself grappling with my feelings about where “recycled materials” are really going and the part I have play in those processes. I am interested in seeing how, in 2015, computer junkyards in the United States exist in other countries and the level of public knowledge about these places as compared to other countries.


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