Promissory collaborations: Big-Tech datacenters and the state
James Maguire (IT University of Copenhagen)
Paper short abstract:
This paper analyses the emergence of the datacenter industry in Denmark as a site of promissory collaboration between the state and Big-Tech, arguing that datacenters provide an interesting perspective from which to think about transformations in data politics.
Paper long abstract:
Big-Tech's arrival to Denmark - the datacenters of Apple, Facebook, and Google - has excited imaginaries of prosperity, progress and regional transformation. Such globally expansive tech corporations are now entering into promissory forms of collaboration with the state; allegedly providing what states are increasingly finding it difficult to offer on their own; jobs, infrastructure and viable futures. Through a preliminary examination of Big-Tech in Denmark, his paper analyses the materialities and politics of locating data and digital infrastructures in small energy-rich nation states. With a critical eye towards such techno-political interventions, and an analytical sensitivity to the geographies (where) and temporalities (when) of data, I suggest that the move towards globally distributed, yet locally situated, digital infrastructures sheds light on how data, and its allegedly transformative potentials, are becoming ever more embedded into the modes by which other relationships form and unfold. I do this by analyzing how datacenters in Denmark are not only sites of assemblage - gathering the photos, music and personal data of billions of dispersed users - but are also sites of promissory collaboration that offer a particular perspective on the ways in which entities such as the state and Big-Tech corporations are under constant reformulation in a rapidly transforming dataverse. At the same time, paying attention to the where and when of data in distributed infrastructures prompts me to provide a lateral reflection on the where and when of data in ethnographic practice.
Farming data - collaborations on site