Technoscience / Ecomateriality / Literature

Tag: Material

Siren Servers Shying Away from the Material?

When the “cloud” and Internet appeared into the world, there was great debate as to how to classify or label this medium for communication and information. Many individuals, like Barlow suggested that cyberspace was separate from the material world and that the typical “legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to [cyberspace]. They are all based on matter, and there is no matter here” (Blanchette 4). This approach to network data from the tech industry and its leaders such as Amazon and Google promoted a divergence from the material, in the hope to place digital information and networking on a pedestal above all else. Of course these tech companies want to brand the cloud in this manner because it places their valuable digital information (revenue generator), into an “untouchable” land where typical regulations and laws are a blur. The interesting part is that the false advertisement of data on an immaterial level is not hard to achieve. As we discussed in our recent seminars, the idea of a cyberspace with digital data was something that was envisioned many years ago. This idea was portrayed in many sci-fi movies and futurist shows, such that when we look up cyberspace in Google, we find bizarre photos that do not resemble anything close to what data centers look like.

This means that the general public assumes that cloud space, to be an immaterial one. This implies that the reality of a material perspective of the Internet and networked digital systems is the alternate view rather than the principle one. In personal reflection, I knew that the cloud was not really in a “cloud”-like space, floating in the immaterial, but looking at the pictures of the Google Data Centers and looking at hardware components solidified that reality in a harsh way. For example, I did not know about the wired tunneled underneath the Atlantic Ocean, I just figured that they wired it some how, but I always kept it in the back of my mind and just thought of “Wi-Fi” when I would Skype with someone abroad. My natural instincts to simplify my view of digital networks overshadowed logical and reason. This is a common occurrence and to change the general perspective of the digital network to a material one would be extremely difficult.

Even though it is a challenge, after processing the readings for this week, I think that the material in the digital needs to be recognized. It is a necessity, not because a running imagination is a bad thing, but that grounding the digital space to the material will also link the digital to the same laws and regulations that other mediums face. This is absolutely necessary because the more we allow digital data to become “untouchable”, the more access siren servers, like Amazon and Facebook, have to power and money.

Blanchette, Jean-Francois. “A Material History of Bits.” Web. 10 Oct. 2014.

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