Preserved Worlds: Vulnerability, Ontology, and the Logics of Standards

Nuria Valverde-Pérez 1
  • 1 Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana,


Standards are linked to specifications about scaling, safety, feasibility and suitability. The threshold setting process defines the environment in which the standards are meaningful to a given community and the conditions of vulnerability implied by their absence. This paper will discuss the role of standards in defining safety conditions for endangered bird species in urban environments and in designing closed environments for polio patients during the 1950s, the infamous iron lungs, which are still rarely used today. The aim is to explore how standards are involved in defining preservation strategies and the shortcomings of their systematic implementation in this regard. The interdependence of technological standards and the increasing amount of information handled are joining cultural assemblages to question the objectives of preservation in artificial environments, urging the question of what we are preserving. This raises the issue of the relationship between stabilisations through epistemic tools and ontological continuity and robustness in dense technological environments.

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