Data is not given. Data is always cooked, even when it's raw. Data is hoarded, processed, and transmitted. Data is media, but it is also portends of futures predetermined by patterns. Data is both pattern and plan. Data indulges in queries. Such probes or declarations allow data to be arranged relationally, to be farmed, milled, and modelled. Data becomes information by virtue of patterning and not content. Data unhinges from its base. Data plots for correlation but eludes proof or cause. Like labour and capital, data is extracted and exploited. Data serves. Data is not master. Data is not sovereign, power is.
Circuits cut through territory, making it anew. Circuits define data's territorial reach, and then expand beyond this ambit. In today's capitalism circuits are directly productive. Without circuits data goes nowhere. Control of circuits does not ipso facto imply control of data. Circuits control resistance, yet resistance is the underside of control. When circuits are broken, transmission ends. Circuits are underwritten by the abstract nature of the forms that propel circulation. Circuits are not cycles. Circuits do not lead back to where they began. Circuits are not infrastructures of totality.
Farms manipulate environments to cultivate growth and maximize yield. Two conditions are necessary for farming: land and water. From the neolithic revolution to genetic modification, these variables have been constants. Hydraulic empires have mutated into sites of monocultural extraction. Whatever the yield, farm produce is siloed and processed into usable form. For the physiocrats, farms produced the wealth of nations. Today farming is a game of accumulation that generates its own territories and borders. Farms require labour, beyond the machine. We need a new tableau economique.
Servers do not wait, they store and transmit. Servers are polysexual machines - they connect and infect without discrimination. Servers make everything a service: software as a service, platform as a service, infrastructure as a service. Servers are legalised rent machines with a license to extract and exploit on the premise of exchange. They are hooked on economies of 'infinite digital abundance' (Morozov). Servers automate services, dispensing with the labour of inspection. Data centres arrange servers in racks and rows. But servers never simply stack. Servers make stacks overflow.
Topology arranges architecture. Topology articulates changes in structures and spaces of power (Lury, Parisi, and Terranova). Data centres fold topologies into networked forms: fixed or flexible, tree-based or recursive, optical or hybrid. Topology turns media and machines into systems of organization. Topological space modulates territory in ways that conform to parameters. The politics of space rubs against the grain of code. Topology tests the boundaries between physics and logic. Topology specifies how signals act on networks. Topology engulfs forms in their own variation.
Colocation puts firms in cages. Server racks cross-connect through peering points. Without windows and immersed in climate-controlled air, colocation is a lonely affair. Meet-me-rooms secure data exchange, not liaisons. Colocation strives for reliability - power has backups, never insurgencies. Colocation raises the frequency of trade and lowers latency. Colocation is expansive: replicating with modules, conforming to standards, governed by protocols. Colocation scales, but only in its own image. Dedicated resources and enclosed suites attract clients inspired by constrained servers. Colocation bonds business.
Ports are either opened or closed. They bridge systems and traffic data. Ports do not terminate movement, they harbour connections. Ports transform the materials that pass through them. They are not only media of exchange but also infrastructures of change. Ports join servers into topologies. Ports have standards that proliferate differences. Ports are transport protocols with assigned numbers. Ports can be registered or ephemeral, which is to say only temporarily allocated. Firewalls close ports. Routers configure networks by port forwarding. Ports can be pinged. Once data passes through a port, it can be traced.
Cooling warms the outside. Data is cool. Servers heat things up. Cooling is about power. Cooling is not air conditioning, it lubricates efficiencies. Cooling is heat extraction. Data centres divide into hot aisles and cold aisles. Cooling architectures distribute air. Cooling never ends, it is continuous and comes in cycles. Thermal analysis enables data analytics. Cooling requires alcohol, even if it is never delirious. Coolants such as glycol double as anti-freeze. Servers are power hungry. Cooling optimizes fan operation. Heat is the waste of data economies. Cooling extracts.
Packets venture across time and space. They are probes into the world. Packets decide through protocols, which govern the destination and arrival of data. Packets prompt decisions but do not make them. The relation between a packet and its externalities carries no residue. Pathways consist of switch-points without a trace. Preference is given to packets whose contents are known (Sprenger). But data acquires meaning from its relations and not its content. Packets travel independently of their capacity to give meaning or make form.
Packets can be taken, but never given.
Territory organizes power across spatial scales and technical systems. Territory has legacies, even if they are unforeseen. Territory cannot be reproduced, it has no simulacrum. Zone, corridor, concession, enclave - these are names for global territories that parallel and rival the territorial forms of the state. Data makes territory of its own accord. But data is also increasingly territorialized, subject to sovereign prerogatives that limit its scope. The tension between data's territorializing capacities and its subjection to existing territoriality crosses political struggle today.
Labour is not work. Labour is the name of subjectivity under the domination of capital and state. Labour is animated by energy, unrest and movement. Labour inheres in bodily and cognitive relations. Labour is subject to abstraction that seeks to reduce it to temporal measure. The tension between abstract and living labour constitutes political struggle. This tension crosses bodies and souls. Labour sits at the client end of server relations. It contributes to the heterogenization of global space even as it is subject to intensification and diversification. Labour time is real-time. Living labour has no time.
Clients function through the obligation to exchange. They flip into servers according to protocols of distribution. Data centres colocate servers but dislocate machines that act as clients. Yet clients covet the placement of their servers in data centres for purposes of peering or directly connecting to other clients' servers. While clients are topologically subordinate to servers, they proliferate topographically. Servers orient geopolitics around uneven geographies of distribution. Clients are disposed from periphery to periphery. Data centers build territories and connect labour forces by spreading their client base. Client-server architectures run jobs and partition tasks. Labour vacated the scene long ago.
Ontology excludes. It shares with territory parameters that define domains. The ontology of data centres catalogues relations between things in time and space (Kittler). Ontology compartmentalizes variables needed for computation and arranges them in layers. Ontology allows machines to think without interference of humans. Ontology provides representations of terrains that follow functions. Ontology does more than classify. Ontology declares authority over contingency, yet contingency unsettles the security of ontology. Topology tolerates faults. Ontology casts them aside.
The switch controls. On/Off. But there are consequences of the switch beyond its control (Easterling). Switches foster monopolies and congestion. Switching is neither substitution nor exchange. Data centres link switches to switches: top of rack, end of rack, core switches, edge switches, aggregation switches, distribution switches, access switches. Switches are not routers. Switches create networks. Routers connect networks. Switches are enslaved by binary logics. Even if they are analogue, they cannot mediate between their settings. Switches have no capacity for synthesis.
Point of presence
Point of presence is the guard to entry. Data centres valorize point of presence as territorial distinctions. Without point of presence capital has no connection and is without peers. Point of presence duplicates content and multiplies storage. Point of presence is an interface. You will never see its design. The point of presence is the switch to distribution. Points of presence are both on the ground and in the air. They are hardware and signal, each governed by protocol. Points of presence anchor ontology to space. The point is that with no part, a site of meeting without division.
Latency is not speed. Latency separates shock from symptom. Latency conceals. Latency flaunts epistemologies of the surface even as it stays in the closet. Low latencies kill time. Low latency indexes the optimization of speed. High finance loves low latency. A melancholia prevails as the subdued claw of the digital, restless with contingency. Latency carries the promise of emancipation from the trauma of infection. Latency struggles against the time elapsed during incubation. Latency is drag. Latency attenuates.