How Much Does Data Sleep?

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Blum's excursion to the Dalles in "Where Data Sleeps" made the clearest connection between the internet and the physical world. Through his explanation of how geography has played a pivotal role in determining where the data we chose not to store locally rests. Blum writes, "It used to be that we kept our data on our (actual) desks, but as we've increasingly given up that local control to far-off professionals, the "hard drive"-that most tangible of descriptors- has transformed into a "cloud," the catchall term for any data or service kept out there, somewhere on the Internet." It is known that when you choose to or are forced by a service to store your data "somewhere on the Internet" that you likely give the holder of your information some right to use your information. A simple example of this behavior is in the Instagram privacy policy, "We may share User Content and your information (including but not limited to, information from cookies, log files, device identifiers, location data, and usage data) with businesses that are legally part of the same group of companies that Instagram is part of, or that become part of that group." Considering that many services operate on policies like this our data is probably not resting as much as we think. Our data or at least a copy of it is being analyzed as an admission fee to the "cloud."

I thought of a more fitting analogy for data centers after reading the final chapter of "Tubes." Blum's repeated statement that our data "sleeps" at centers like the Dalles portrays an environment too static to be the internet. Data centers are more like large corporate reservoirs in a network of interconnected pumped-storage hydroelectric batteries. As data is called upon by a user it flows through the network like water down the incline, into other stations, and finally to the user. I think this analogy accounts for the sometimes fluid nature of our data that is stored in data centers.

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Nick, thanks for the telling critique of the sleeping metaphor. Very helpful. I wish we'd had more time for this in class!

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This page contains a single entry by brann038 published on February 7, 2013 12:14 AM.

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