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Dissertation Information for Steven Jackson

- Steven Jackson

- Ph.D.

- Communication

- University of California, San Diego (USA) (2005)

- Geoffrey Bowker
- Robert B. Horwitz

- Chandra Mukerji
- Steven G. Epstein
- Gary Fields
- Andrew Lakoff

MPACT Status: Fully Complete

Title: Building the virtual river: Numbers, models, and the politics of water in California

Abstract: This dissertation employs ethnographic, interview, and historiographic methods to explore the emergence, design, and distinctive controversies surrounding the use of computer simulation models in water management and politics in California, together with the broader regime of numbers and governance which support them. The first part of the dissertation offers an archival grounding for current debates, exploring the histories of knowledge, government, measure, and representation by which California rivers have been brought within and helped to produce the distinctive "territorial embrace" of the late-modern state in California. Chapter Three surveys the literature on models and policy in the earth sciences, exploring the ambivalent epistemic status of models vis--vis more established theoretical, experimental and data forms. Chapter Four explores the role of models in the field of water management, from physical and analog traditions in the early to mid-twentieth century to the rise of computer simulation techniques beginning in the 1950s and accelerating over the 1980s and 1990s. Chapter Five considers two principal case studies: the State Water Project Reliability Report of 2002, and current efforts to update the California Water Plan, both delayed and/or substantially reshaped by controversies surrounding the legitimacy of modeling. As these and other cases of "doing hard politics with soft numbers" suggest, despite technical developments and widespread policy deployments in the past ten years, the status of model knowledge in public contexts remains fragile, subject to ever-present threats of technical, political, and institutional deconstruction. Because of this, the representational adequacy of models cannot be reduced or fixed at the level of technical practice or 'code itself', but resides in a dense and politically consequential web of social, technical and institutional practices. Pragmatically, I urge designers, policy-makers, activists, and other political actors to "attend to the infrastructure," i.e. pay adequate attention to the mundane details of design, history, and practice that play a large and growing role in shaping the deliberative character (or otherwise) of complex systems of epistemic, material, and social order.

MPACT Scores for Steven Jackson

A = 1
C = 3
A+C = 4
T = 1
G = 1
W = 1
TD = 1
TA = 0
calculated 2012-07-31 10:39:52

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Students under Steven Jackson

- Dana M Walker - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2011)

- Luo Airong - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2008)
- Jude ChoonLoong Yew - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2011)
- Eric Christopher Cook - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2011)