On June 9, Matteo Pasquinelli will give a talk at the Historical Epistemologies of Planetary Modelling workshop at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin.
The Labour of Energy and Information: Notes for a Historical Metrology of the Anthropocene.
The modelling of large ecosystems and the whole planet has exponentially increased its degree of resolution following the rise of information technologies. In the attempt of historicising the techniques of modelling in natural and environmental sciences, the paper focuses on the entangled evolution of two key notions – energy and information – and the way their definition has affected the study of the different systems of the world model, understood as a complex scaffolding of biosphere and technosphere. It is argued, however, that the genealogy of these notions should be also related to the ergosphere, that is to the metrics of manual and mental labour as they have emerged since the industrial age. Inspired by the ‘historical metrology’ of Witold Kula, the paper advocates for the development of a similar critical methodology also in the study of the metrics of the Anthropocene.