Data Farms

Circuits, Labour, Territory

PDF, 128 pages

English language

Published June 10, 2022 by Open Humanities Press.

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3 stars (1 review)

What is at stake in naming data centres as data farms? These installations are essentially hangars packed with computers. They congregate servers, switches and wires that facilitate the storage, processing and transmission of data in high volumes and at fast speeds. Data centres present a scale of operations, potentially planetary in scope, that intensifies and multiplies the productive and extractive capacities of digital technologies. The economic advantages that accrue to parties with servers in these installations derive not only from opportunities for peering and networking but also from inputs to client machines that may be situated at vast distance. Yet data centres have precise locations, often clustering where there is access to energy, skills, land concessions, tax exemptions or undersea cables. There are no data centres without land and water. Like the ‘dark satanic mills’ associated with the factories of the industrial revolution, data centres burn fossil fuels. Yet, despite …

1 edition

Data decentred

3 stars

This is a research object presented as a series of essays and musings on data infrastructure in different nations and political regions. It is as much a philosophical dive into the idea of data centres as it is a technical or sociological book. Although the metaphor of 'farms' never really materialises in the text (despite the editor's promises at the beginning), the deeper connections of data to infrastructure and geopolitics make for fascinating and thoughtful reading. The design is also terrific.

Although the chapters are by different authors, the overall voice feels like it is collective and cohesive. There is a tendency for the essays to repeat musings on infrastructure, as there are natural overlaps in different studies, which could have been trimmed out.