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We the Dead: Preserving Data at the End of the World

We the Dead: Preserving Data at the End of the World

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Author: Brian Michael Murphy

Locked away in refrigerated vaults, sanitized by gas chambers, and secured within bombproof caverns deep under mountains are America's most prized materials: the ever-expanding collection of records that now accompany each of us from birth to death. This data complex backs up and protects our most vital information against decay and destruction, and yet it binds us to corporate and government institutions whose power is also preserved in its bunkers, infrastructures, and sterilized spaces.

We the Dead traces the emergence of the data complex in the early twentieth century and guides readers through its expansion in a series of moments when Americans thought they were living just before the end of the world. Depression-era eugenicists feared racial contamination and the downfall of the white American family, while contemporary technologists seek ever denser and more durable materials for storing data, from microetched metal discs to cryptocurrency keys encoded in synthetic DNA. Artfully written and packed with provocative ideas, this haunting book illuminates the dark places of the data complex and the ways it increasingly blurs the lines between human and machine, biological body and data body, life and digital afterlife.

Publisher: University of North Carolina Press
Published: 08/23/2022
Pages: 328
Binding Type: Hardcover
Weight: 1.15lbs
Size: 9.37h x 6.14w x 1.34d
ISBN: 9781469668284

About the Author
Murphy, Brian Michael: - Brian Michael Murphy is dean of the college and director of the MFA in Public Action at Bennington College.

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