The relevancy of Paul N. Edwards A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming in a society where natural disasters have become commonplace and the news has become filled with debates on global warming and climate change cannot be understated. While there have been countless publications made that revolve around the world of climate change (Edwards himself references 5000 in this one book), it is the way that he has structured his book through the use of framing and infrastructure, examining his data and theories through this method that both demonstrate how media ecologies can extend to every reach of society and how using these frameworks can shed a new light or angle onto an otherwise exhausted field.
Edwards also addresses the idea of data and media (in his case, simulation models) being opposing forces. He states that “Observing systems have changed so much and so often that you can only combine long-term records by monitoring the effects of different instrument behaviours, data collection practices, weather station site changes, and hundreds of other factors” (p. xv). Due to the way that ecologies are continually changing and the extremely complex relationships that the various facets of any one ecology can consist of, labelling any one or two facets (e.g. media and data) as something (e.g. opposing) can lead to an oversimplification of the idea where more exploration is needed.
Edwards does not only frame his theories and arguments, but frames the book for a variety of audiences. I particularly liked that Edwards had done this (p. xxi – xxiii), breaking apart his book chapter by chapter and referring different audience groups (i.e. the general public, scientists, students) to specific sections. Edwards has, at the same time, reworked both the field of study in question by applying new frameworks of study and the manner in which it can be read by applying within the book internal frameworks for a variety of social groups.
Edwards, P. N., 2010. ‘Introduction’ in A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming, MA: MIT Press