One of the things I loved about Laura DeNardis’ talk “Where is the Internet?” was her brief analysis of the spaces that make the internet work. These are spaces that are designed to remain hidden or invisible, and one could therefore think that their design might not matter, or might not have an aesthetic dimension–but it does. She showed an image of a Google cooling plant for a data center in Douglas County, Georgia, and the audience was able to identify that this was a Google-related space just from the colors. Thinking about and discovering these spaces, the true engines of our internet revolution is fascinating. From the outside they are as impersonal and mundane as mass-produced office buildings, and yet they facilitate all the creativity and conflict and energy of the web as a global presence.
This was a thought provoking lecture that concluded with important questions about internet freedom and governance. And it was also great to have just the right person that could answer all our questions, including whether sharks chew on the submarine fiberoptic cables that carry broadband traffic from one side of the ocean to another… —– Despina Kakoudaki
Make sure you check out her new book, The Global War for Internet Governance (Yale University Press, 2014).
And here are some pictures from the event: