Stefan Helmreich is Professor of Anthropology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of
World Wide Waves, In Silico: Computer Memory, Ocean Memory, and Version Control in the Global Data Stack
The chapter draws on fieldwork at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, where since the 1980s the WAVEWATCH computer model has organized national wave prediction in coordination with a global infrastructure of buoys and satellites. It discusses participation in a summer school on WAVEWATCH at which an international collection of wave scientists, including from Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Iraq, Korea, Mexico, and Turkey, met and that culminated in an account of how students learned to model 2005's Hurricane Katrina. The chapter argues that, as computer models of waves work with the time of waves at sea; the retrodictive time required to generate predictions; the speedy time of simulation; the reshuffling “version” time of computing in the data stack; and the staggered time of global wave science, they both depend on and create idiosyncratic, biographical, and political memories of all the waves yet to be included.