The nested materiality of environmental monitoring
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionScandinavian Journal of Information Systems 2015, 27(1)
Present knowledge about the Arctic marine ecosystem is sparse. These areas are vast, remote, and subject to harsh weather conditions. We report from a three-year case study of an ongoing effort for real-time sub-sea environmental monitoring by a Norwegian oil and gas operator aimed to obtain permission to drill in Arctic Norway. The marine ecosystem is monitored through a network of sensors, communication links, and visualisation and analysis tools. We propose the concept of nested materiality to describe how ‘facts’ about the sub-sea environment are anything but neutral; they are intrinsically caught up with the material means by which they are known. Nested materiality draws on perspectives in sociomateriality but highlights (i) the distributed and interconnected infrastructure of the material means (as opposed to artefact-centric), and (ii) a technology in-the-making (as opposed to black-boxed) that brings to the fore the empirical moments when materiality is questioned and unpacked.