[SIGCIS-Members] Call for Ideas!

Paul N. Edwards pne at umich.edu
Wed Aug 24 12:49:03 PDT 2016


So there are two variants of “critical infrastructure studies” now — “[critical infrastructure] studies” and “critical [infrastructure studies]”. I think Lori’s usage (the second one) is new, and still rare. It also may not be possible to distinguish STS-y versions of “infrastructure studies” from “critical infrastructure studies” (Lori’s sense). 

To my knowledge, the first use of the phrase “critical infrastructure” was around 1997-98, by the Clinton-era President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection (PCCIP). Perhaps there were earlier uses of the phrase that I don’t know about.

The PCCIP focused in part on vulnerabilities created by connections across infrastructures - cyber with electric and phone, for example. People working in one, e.g. cyber, tended to ignore vulnerabilities due to their interaction, e.g. cutting major undersea cables (physical attack, not cyber) would also take out chunks of the Internet. 

The PCCIP work became input to the new Dept of Homeland Security after 9/11/2001.

There’s a 100-plus page report, issued around 1999. If it’s too hard to find email me and I will send you a copy.

Best,

Paul



> On Aug 23, 2016, at 22:06 , Lori Emerson <lori.emerson at gmail.com <mailto:lori.emerson at gmail.com>> wrote:
> 
> Thanks all for the responses. 
> 
> I just remembered that I came across "critical infrastructure studies" in this excerpt from Alan Liu's book-in-progress tentatively titled "Against the Cultural Singularity: Digital Humanities & Critical Infrastructure Studies." http://liu.english.ucsb.edu/drafts-for-against-the-cultural-singularity/ <http://liu.english.ucsb.edu/drafts-for-against-the-cultural-singularity/> 
> 
> He writes something to the effect that he's borrowing a "lightly anti-foundationalism" from critical infrastructure studies but I'm not sure yet who he's engaging with in terms of the latter and was curious about whether critical infrastructure studies had become an established branch from the main field or whether it's not well known or considered idiosyncratic. 
> 
> In terms of "critical," Liu quotes from Michael Agre's writings on artificial intelligence research: “The word ‘critical’ here does not call for pessimism and destruction but rather for an expanded understanding of the conditions and goals of technical work. . . .  Instead of seeking foundations it would embrace the impossibility of foundations, guiding itself by a continually unfolding awareness of its own workings as a historically specific practice.”   
> 
> yours, Lori
> 
> On Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 4:27 PM, Alberts, Gerard <G.Alberts at uva.nl <mailto:G.Alberts at uva.nl>> wrote:
> Eh, but Tom, aren't getting off on a tangent here?
> I agree with Brian that "critical" in this context is an adjective to infrastructures, not to the study of it -even if we do not have to exclude to possibility of a critical theory of infrastructures.
> Infrastructures were deemed critical by those who observed that the breakdown of such infrastructures would bring the whole of society to a standstill. I would think, the high voltage power networks were the key example. Whether the expression "critical infrastructure"  was brought into the debate by military strategists, political scientists, anthropologists or by those building the networks, I do not know. Interesting historical question. Of equal interest is when and by whom IT-infrastructures were considered so crucially important, that they were called "critical".
> Gerard 
> Van: Members [members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org <mailto:members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org>] namens Thomas Haigh [thomas.haigh at gmail.com <mailto:thomas.haigh at gmail.com>]
> Verzonden: dinsdag 23 augustus 2016 23:42
> Aan: 'Lori Emerson'
> CC: members at lists.sigcis.org <mailto:members at lists.sigcis.org>
> Onderwerp: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] Call for Ideas!
> 
> I don’t think critical adds a whole lot to “infrastructure studies.” It has some usefulness in formulations like “critical management studies” (a thing in Northern Europe but no so much in the US) as management scholarship is usually uncritical in every sense of the word. So “critical” demarcates a scholarly community deliberately taking a unorthodox approaches to challenge the assumptions of the field. http://www.criticalmanagement.org/content/about-cms <http://www.criticalmanagement.org/content/about-cms>
>  
> But science studies, STS, media studies, etc. manage to embrace a variety of socially and culturally informed perspectives without their practitioners needing to add the “critical” in front of them. Adding “critical” might be seen as a challenge to those currently embracing “infrastructure studies” as a scholarly identity. There’s also the question of whether “critical” means critical as in “critical thinking” or as in “critical theory,” and while critical theory certainly has a place among other approaches in the study of infrastructure not everyone would feel comfortable with the suggestion that it should be elevated over approaches grounded in STS, history, sociology, anthropology, etc.
> 
>  
> Best wishes,
> 
>  
> Tom
> 
>  
>  
>  
> From: Members [mailto:members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org <mailto:members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org>] On Behalf Of Lori Emerson
> Sent: Tuesday, August 23, 2016 1:39 PM
> To: Paul N. Edwards <pne at umich.edu <mailto:pne at umich.edu>>
> Cc: Dag Spicer <dspicer at computerhistory.org <mailto:dspicer at computerhistory.org>>; members at lists.sigcis.org <mailto:members at lists.sigcis.org>
> Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] Call for Ideas!
> 
>  
> Dear all, I just wanted to thank you for sending in these great resources for infrastructure studies - I came across the term "critical infrastructure studies" a couple months ago and got quite excited about how it seemed more expansive and more useful for describing my projects on labs and the pre-history of the internet than either "media archaeology" or just "media studies." But now I wonder what the extra "critical" denotes since there's a somewhat well established field already of I.S.? Any thoughts?
> 
>  
> yours, Lori
> 
>  
> On Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 11:43 AM, Paul N. Edwards <pne at umich.edu <mailto:pne at umich.edu>> wrote:
> 
> Dag, here’s a partial list. I’ll be curious to hear what others might add.
> 
>  
> Bowker & Star, Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences
> 
>  
> Simon & Marvin, Splintering Urbanism — kind of a giant lit review, mostly focused on urban physical infrastructure but with some attention to digital
> 
>  
> Edwards, A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming <http://pne.people.si.umich.edu/vastmachine/index.html>
>  
> Edwards et al., Understanding Infrastructure: Dynamics, Tensions, and Design <http://pne.people.si.umich.edu/PDF/ui.pdf> (NSF report with some lit review)
> 
>  
> Starosielski, The Undersea Network
> 
>  
> Check the books in my Infrastructures book series <https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/series/infrastructures>, co-edited with Geof Bowker - e.g. Larry Busch, Standards: Recipes for Reality
> 
>  
> Also this very recent paper <https://www.academia.edu/27555302/Infrastructure_studies_meet_platform_studies_in_the_age_of_Google_and_Facebook> on platforms vs. infrastructures - not sure it counts as “canonical”!
> 
>  
> Best,
> 
>  
> Paul
> 
>  
>  
>  
>  
> On Aug 22, 2016, at 16:20 , Dag Spicer <dspicer at computerhistory.org <mailto:dspicer at computerhistory.org>> wrote:
> 
>  
> Can anyone suggest some canonical and effective texts in Infrastructure Studies?
> 
> Thanks!
> 
> Dag
> --
> Dag Spicer
> Senior Curator
> Computer History Museum
> Editorial Board, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing
> 1401 North Shoreline Boulevard
> Mountain View, CA 94043-1311
> 
> Tel: +1 650 810 1035 <tel:%2B1%20650%20810%201035>
> Fax: +1 650 810 1055 <tel:%2B1%20650%20810%201055>
> 
> _______________________________________________
> This email is relayed from members at sigcis.org <http://sigcis.org/>, the email discussion list of SHOT SIGCIS. Opinions expressed here are those of the member posting and are not reviewed, edited, or endorsed by SIGCIS. The list archives are at http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/ <http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/> and you can change your subscription options athttp://lists.sigcis.org/listinfo.cgi/members-sigcis.org <http://lists.sigcis.org/listinfo.cgi/members-sigcis.org>
>  
> 
> —————————————————
> 
> Paul N. Edwards, Professor of Information <http://www.si.umich.edu/> and History <http://www.lsa.umich.edu/history/>
> Distinguished Faculty in Sustainability, Graham Sustainability Institute <http://graham.umich.edu/>
> Senior Fellow, Michigan Society of Fellows <http://societyoffellows.umich.edu/>
>  
> Terse replies are deliberate <http://five.sentenc.es/>. Here's why!  <http://emailcharter.org/>
>  
> University of Michigan School of Information <http://www.si.umich.edu/>
> 4437 North Quad
> 
> 105 S. State Street
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> 
> Twitter: @AVastMachine <https://twitter.com/avastmachine>
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> _______________________________________________
> This email is relayed from members at sigcis.org <http://sigcis.org/>, the email discussion list of SHOT SIGCIS. Opinions expressed here are those of the member posting and are not reviewed, edited, or endorsed by SIGCIS. The list archives are at http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/ <http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/> and you can change your subscription options at http://lists.sigcis.org/listinfo.cgi/members-sigcis.org <http://lists.sigcis.org/listinfo.cgi/members-sigcis.org>
> 
> 
>  
> --
> 
> Lori Emerson
> Associate Professor | Director, Media Archaeology Lab
> Department of English and Intermedia Arts, Writing, and Performance 
> 
> University of Colorado at Boulder
> Hellems 101, 226 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0226
> loriemerson.net <http://loriemerson.net/> | mediaarchaeologylab.com <http://mediaarchaeologylab.com/>
> 
> 
> -- 
> Lori Emerson
> Associate Professor | Director, Media Archaeology Lab
> Department of English and Intermedia Arts, Writing, and Performance 
> University of Colorado at Boulder
> Hellems 101, 226 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0226
> loriemerson.net <http://loriemerson.net/> | mediaarchaeologylab.com <http://mediaarchaeologylab.com/>_______________________________________________
> This email is relayed from members at sigcis.org <http://sigcis.org/>, the email discussion list of SHOT SIGCIS. Opinions expressed here are those of the member posting and are not reviewed, edited, or endorsed by SIGCIS. The list archives are at http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/ <http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/> and you can change your subscription options at http://lists.sigcis.org/listinfo.cgi/members-sigcis.org <http://lists.sigcis.org/listinfo.cgi/members-sigcis.org>

—————————————————
Paul N. Edwards, Professor of Information <http://www.si.umich.edu/> and History <http://www.lsa.umich.edu/history/>
Distinguished Faculty in Sustainability, Graham Sustainability Institute <http://graham.umich.edu/>
Senior Fellow, Michigan Society of Fellows <http://societyoffellows.umich.edu/>

Terse replies are deliberate <http://five.sentenc.es/>. Here's why!  <http://emailcharter.org/>

University of Michigan School of Information <http://www.si.umich.edu/>
4437 North Quad
105 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1285
Twitter: @AVastMachine <https://twitter.com/avastmachine>
Web: pne.people.si.umich.edu <http://pne.people.si.umich.edu/>










































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