Book is out! A New Science for Future. Climate Impact Modeling and the Quest for Digital Openness

Available in print and digitally with open access here.

Building on concepts from Science & Technology Studies, Simon David Hirsbrunner investigates practices and infrastructures of computer modeling and science communication in climate impact research. The book characterizes how scientists calculate future climate risks in computer models and scenarios, but also how they circulate their insights and make them accessible and comprehensible to others. By discussing elements such as infrastructures, visualizations, models, software and data, the chapters show how computational modeling practices are currently changing in light of digital transformations and expectations for an open science. A number of inventive research devices are proposed to capture both the fluidity and viscosity of contemporary digital technology.

Where the action is

“The number of acting units and the kinds of action are increasing for the first time, since modernity and enlightenment have successfully diminished it by banning moving objects and talking trees, inviting nymphs and punishing gods, speaking oracles and helpful angels out of the sphere of action into the world of fetish and fiction.” (Rammert 2008, 2)

Guilt by association

“If agency in all its forms is democratically distributed to all sorts of dividuals, some of which may temporarily be assembled as humans and others as machines, animals, or other quasi agents, then do we need to permanently bracket all forms of intrahuman judgment, accountability, and ethical discourse? Will future courts only be judges of assemblages of hands-guns-bodies-bullets and blood or of syringes-heroin-junkies- dealers or of ricin-envelopes-mailboxes-couriers and the like? And, worse, who will be the judges, witnesses, juries, prosecutors, and de- fenders? Will our very ideas of crime and punishment disappear into a bewildering landscape of actants, assemblages, and machines? If the only sociology left is the sociology of association, then will the only guilt left be guilt by association?” (Appadurai, Arjun. 2015. Mediants, materiality, normativity)

how to open a library II

// open methods note 2


A first version of my open library with digital media research literature (STS, media studies, anthropology, etc.) (see also open methods note 1).

Try tags such as ‘methods’, ‘data’, ‘conceptual’, ‘infrastructures



Entire collection


how to open a library

// open methods note 1

How can I share references to scientific literature with others? – online and hopefully using open source infrastructure?

What might be the best way to give others access to this literature, to create meaningful access points to a body of literature?


Building on my on research and body of literature, the plan is to collect a list of references useful for social scientists investigating data practices, infrastructures, economies and publics. These may be media scholars researching the use of social media platforms, sociologists dealing with digital knowledge infrastructures, or anthropologists unraveling data practices in Silicon Valley start-ups.


Given that I used Zotero to collect and sort my scientific literature, this will be the starting point of this little project. Zotero is an open-source application and project. The cloud service is funded by the US-based, non-profit project partners and maintained by AWS (Amazon Web Services) on their US-East servers (in Virginia?). More information on privacy issues and policies here.

Access points and pathways to knowledge
How can I navigate people to the specific resources valuable for them? I am currently tagging all my relevant Zotero entries with tags. As becomes clear to me in the process of doing, developing a useful tag structure involves the imagination of an audience for the reference collection. It also mirrors the cognitive classes in my brain, partly structured explicitly through my PhD work, partly retrieving older and deeper layers of my unconscious. Some preliminary classes: method (digital methods, historical research), school of thinking (practice theory, sociology, sts, anthropology), research phenomenon (facebook research, data-science, simulation).

Does it have to be a database query field?
I discovered a nice feature in Zotero 5 that lets you visualize your literature in an interactive timeline. Below, my latest inspirational influx (ordered by the dates works where added to the library). Epistemological value: trace your shifts and realignments in theory, method, and research object. For me, from visual and cultural studies to digital STS, with occasional peaks in post-representational cartography and media anthropology.

Going online
Zotero allows the publishing of libraries through a cloud server. Setting up the syncronization between my local library and the cloud is easy, but requires setting up an account at You then enter the login details in the preferences/sync section of your standalone Zotero application and you’re done. With a basic subscription to the cloud, users receive free storage up to 300 MB. Additional storage can be purchased via annual subcription plans. 

How open is online?
Finding the information (my website, post, library), create a login/account, have an internet connection, access via computer hardware, be digitally literate, understand English, being able to read. In general, to make an information ‘open’ means to overcome some access barriers while discarding others. To categorize is to position oneself. I will try to tackle the login and visibility issues and discard everything else (my positioning).

A first version of the open library and access point



Berlin and the sea

I love this passage from Yi-Fu Tuans Space and Place. The Perspective of Experience:

“What is space? Let an episode in the life of the theologian Paul Tillich focus the question so that it bears on the meaning of space in experience. Tillich was born and brought up in a small town in eastern Germany before the turn of the century. The town was medieval in character. Surrounded by a wall and administered from a medieval town hall, it gave the impression of a small, protected, and self-contained world. To an imaginative child it felt narrow and restrictive. Every year, however young Tillich was able to escape with his family to the Baltic Sea. The flight to the limitless horizon and unrestricted space of the seashore was a great event. Much later Tillich chose a place on the Atlantic Ocean for his days of retirement, a decision that undoubtedly owed much to those early experiences. As a boy Tillich was also able to escape from the narrowness of small-town life by making trips to Berlin. Visits to the big city curiously reminded him of the sea. Berlin, too, gave Tillich a feeling of openness, infinity, unrestricted space. Experiences of this kind make us ponder anew the meaning of a word like “space” or “spaciousness” that we think we know well.”