Data centres form an integral part of current global information infrastructures. The data centre is where 'the cloud' becomes experiential. The panel addresses novel methodologies for researching infrastructures and materialities from within STS, anthropology, sociology and media studies.
Data centres form an integral part of current global information infrastructures. The data centre is where data lives, where 'the cloud' becomes somewhat experiential, where scholars may expect to get a handle on the mattering and worlding of data. Nevertheless, at data centres we are confronted with assortments of components, visions and systems that appear incongruous and, at times, trite: corporate strategies of liquid workforces, integration, security; grey corridors, grey panels, black metal cages; gas cylinders, diesel engines, water pipes, cables. Through the work of Susan Leigh Star we know that the invisibility and boredom of(in) data infrastructures are essential to their functioning as infrastructure; and that it takes careful attention and analysis to bring into focus the politics of(in) data infrastructures. While Star's work remains extremely pertinent, the importance of (big) data has been proliferating in the last years. The specificities of data distribution, storage and maintenance - where and when it happens, how it is done and by whom - are shot through with histories and politics. The life cycle of data is structured around myriads of decisions, taken in the name of efficiency, security or practicability, that reproduce differences and, more often than not, inequalities. The panel addresses site-specific collaborations at data centres. We are particularly interested in papers that engage with the temporality, spatiality and modularity of data, as well as invite contributors to discuss methodologies for researching infrastructures and materialities, data engagements or the folding of data from within STS, anthropology, sociology and media studies.