Accepted paper:

Locating the data centre. Attending to place in the study of cloud computing

Authors:

Susanne Bauer (University of Oslo)
Christine Hanke (University of Bayreuth)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will examine cloud computing as a localized practice that has a place - the data centre. We will describe the relations between distributed data flows and the sturdy materiality of place.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores ways of locating cloud computing in the material infrastructures of cloud storage. Attending to place when it comes to delocalized, distributed data storage can help understand the ways in which practices with data are involved in infrastructuring and making worlds. Experimenting with research into digital infrastructures in Upper Franconia (Germany), we will ask for the close ties of cloud infrastructures with their surroundings, temporally, spatially and in terms of regional economies. In doing so, we will focus on the specific segmentations on site: We will address the spaces inside the data centre, as well as the connectivities between inside and outside in order to understand the modularity, spatial and temporal relations within extended data machines. In the data centre itself, we find infrastructures of storage embedded in broader business strategies of liquid workforce, as well as tedious air-conditioned rooms filled with stacks of hardware and the monotony of server sound. In its attempt to locate, track, and follow such connections, this talk will investigate the containment and flow of data as well as their foldings that reach beyond the data centre. We will discuss the socio-geographical and historical relations at the site, the repurposing of architecture, the generation of data security via redundancy at multiple levels as well as constantly adapted business models of future value creation. Combining approaches from STS and media studies, we invite a discussion on methodologies for collaborative, interdisciplinary research into the materiality of digital infrastructure.

panel A22
Farming data - collaborations on site