Tag: logistics

Writing

Material Epistemologies of the (Mobile) Telephone

This article examines the ways of knowing that govern public constructions of knowledge in the manufacture of the mobile phone—its cultural meaning, sociality of labor, and environmental consequences. It does so to consider the “material epistemology” of the mobile phone, the way in which one comes to know these devices, especially through the devices themselves. In modern manufacture, the incorporation of corporate supplier audits and investigative reporting into public discourse reveals an epistemology of production that is primarily imagined, rather than historically and ethnographically realized. Although the public epistemology of the mobile supply chain is built from the model of the telephone and telegraph, these networks were themselves mystified, displaced, and obscured. This is illustrated by examining material and conceptual differences between the historic supply chain of the telephone manufacturer Western Electric, and those imagined for contemporary companies like Apple.

Writing

The Social Network of Stuff

This conversation between Matthew Hockenberry and Kenneth Tay marks the beginning of a series of dialogues on the subject of logistics. No longer a mere subject of business management schools or an exclusive expertise of the military, logistics has become a significant presence in recent scholarship, particularly in the humanities, and is now frequently talked about in fields such as geography, information studies, international relations, and media studies.

Writing

Studies in Sortation

Amazon is a hybrid company, equal parts Walmart and FedEx. Like all great retailers of the modern moment, it is an outsized presence masking the hundreds–thousands–of individuals using its infrastructure to build business behind house labels and simplified searches. But it is distribution that girds the company’s foundation and prefigures its future. In this respect, […]

Logistical Fictions

Supply Chain: The Game

Or at least, Assembly Line: The Game… with aliens. Factorio is “a game in which you build and maintain factories.” As the developer puts it: You will be mining resources, researching technologies, building infrastructure, automating production and fighting enemies. Use your imagination to design your factory, combine simple elements into ingenious structures, apply management skills […]

Announcements

Food Infrastructures

The editors of LIMN were kind enough to let me contribute a small historical overview to the recent Food Infrastructures issue. While I’m no expert in food studies (other than in the eating of it), I think it serves as a reasonable primer (particularly with regard to packaging, production, distribution, and data) for the articles […]

Logistical Fictions

The Breakfast Machine

One of the more familiar examples of Rube Goldberg machines, Pee-wee’s elaborate contraption, while not at all efficient in the conventional sense, seems to operate precisely to the particulars that Herman has specified. Global logistics shares some important distinctions with what might be termed logistics at the small-scale (tabletop, or perhaps, factory floor logistics), and […]

Writing

Manifests of the Standing-Reserve

Recently I’ve had the chance to give some talks on the history of trade infrastructure, bills of lading, factories, and the intellectual history of “supply.” I shared a similar version of this talk at both the Neil Postman Conference and the Media, Materiality, and Infrastructures workshop here at NYU, so I thought I’d do so […]