Paul N. Edwards, professor in the School of Information (SI) and the department of history, University of Michigan presents -- The Glass Laboratory: Climate Knowledge Infrastructures in the Age of Hyper-Transparency.

Abstract:  Edwards argues that new media environments have created a “glass laboratory,” where even scientists’ emails become metadata in the public life of climate knowledge. He begins with a historical account of datamaking in climate science, drawn from his book A Vast Machine. Based on recent work with climate software developers and Earth system scientists, he analyzes the 1990s emergence of the knowledge infrastructure that underlies today’s broad scientific consensus on global warming. Against this historical background, he explores three climate controversies of the early 21st century: the “hockey stick,” Climategate, and the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project. In each episode, outsiders leveraged new media to “audit” climate science, expose the deepest details of the climate knowledge infrastructure, and even create their own climate datasets. The glass laboratory presents a paradox. It holds the potential to democratize expertise and improve public trust, yet also risks rendering expert knowledge important in public debates. Understanding the roots of this paradox is essential for all future science-related policymaking.

Co-sponsored with Stanford's Department of Communication. For information contact: Belen Perez-Lazarri