Outside of the Network—A Talk by Nicole Starosielski

Outside of the Network—A Talk by Nicole Starosielski

  • Outside of the Network—A Talk by Nicole Starosielski

    Nicole Starosielski

    Associate Faculty

    Over 99% of transoceanic data traffic is carried across the oceans by undersea cables—these technologies comprise the backbone of the global internet. This talk focuses on the environments that the cable system traverses, exposing the unseen labor and technopolitical formations that sustain everyday internet connections. Through a demonstration of the digital media project, Surfacing, the talk reveals how the experience of mediated wirelessness is accompanied by an increasing investment in wires; intercontinental connections paradoxically require numerous forms of disconnection; and our experience of global media is made possible by massive investments in the environments that surround fiber-optic networks.

Nicole Starosielski’s research focuses on the global distribution of digital media, and the relationships between technology, culture, and the environment. Her book, The Undersea Network (Duke University Press, 2015), charts the development of undersea cable systems, beginning with the nineteenth century telegraph network and extending to the fiber-optic infrastructure that supports transoceanic internet traffic. A corresponding media project, “Surfacing” (surfacing.in), allows users to traverse undersea networks in an interactive, visual environment. Starosielski’s edited collections, including Signal Traffic: Critical Studies of Media Infrastructure (with Lisa Parks, University of Illinois Press, 2015), Sustainable Media: Critical Approaches to Media and Environment (with Janet Walker, Routledge, 2016), and a special issue of amodern on “Network Archaeology” (with Braxton Soderman and cris cheek, 2013) foreground new connections between media and its infrastructures and environments. Her current research examines the relationship between media and temperature.