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February 26th, 2018

PhD in Material Social Futures: The history and future of data storage and data use

Deadline for Applications: 30th March 2018

This is a call for applications for a three year fully funded PhD studentship  in the Sociology Department at Lancaster University, UK. The studentship is part of Lancaster University’s Leverhulme Doctoral Training Centre in Material Social Futures.

We live in a world where technology is developing at a pace previously unseen. Individuals and institutions produce more and more information and use it in ever more subtle ways, for example, and this, in turn, is creating demand for ever smaller, more powerful computing devices. Manufacturers of these devices search for new materials that can revolutionize the storage of this information, making it smaller, cheaper, more powerful. Nanotechnology offers one way forward to achieve these goals. Yet these manufacturers, just like these institutions and individuals, are not always fully aware of the ecological and social consequences that this demand for more data, more storage and new materials, might produce.

In response, this PhD investigates the relation between innovations in data storage technology material and questions of what ‘data’ is, why and how it is stored, accessed and even forgotten. Its concerns are at once sociological and material, social and environmental, though in this PhD the emphasis is on the social. It will focus on exploring different configurations of technology, data and storage in the past, present and future – from filing cabinets and floppy discs historically, through to cloud computing today, and in the imagined future of quantum data storage which nanotechnology anticipates. To enquire into this, the PhD project will draw on innovative combinations of concepts and methods and team-based collaborations with PhDs in nanotechnology and data storage that will allow explorations of different configurations of data storage materials (such as nanotechnology) and data use. It will enable analysis of anticipated and less certain or predictable social and environmental consequences of these diverse configurations of use and material technology. Ultimately these potentially exciting conceptual and empirical understandings will be brought together to shed new light on the consequences of such advancements in material science.

For further details about the position, and information on how to apply please visit: http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/sociology/postgraduate/phd/fees-and-funding/phd-in-material-social-futures-the-history-and-future-of-data-storage-and-data/