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Attractive Data: The Cloud, Rare Earth Magnets, and New Materialism

Sat, May 27, 8:00 to 9:15, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Floor: 2, Indigo Ballroom C


Using methodologies drawn from New Materialism such as Actor Network Theory and Agential Realism, this paper seeks to understand the standardization of the 3.5" Winchester hard disk drive (the current foundational building block of cloud computing architecture) historically as a network of human and non-human actants. It will focus specifically on the rare earth element neodymium, its pivotal interposition into this network in the late 1980s, and the various political, environmental, and technological factors that have maintained its dominance within the context of the growing cloud computing infrastructure.


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