Note — Apr 25, 2021

The Infrastructural Power Beneath the Internet as We Know It

Seen in → No.170

Source →

Infrastructure makes a regular appearance in Sentiers, but has also been discussed quite a bit recently, around Biden’s plans to mention just one instance. Here Ingrid Burrington looks more specifically at technology as infrastructure, and shows how because of ongoing concentration, we could actually call “infrastructure” the “means of production” or the “means of computation” (I’ll be re-using that!) to more clearly grasp who controls the technology around us, and the difficulties we face if we want to claim back some of the control of those means. (It’s at The Reboot and a number of adjacent articles are embedded along the way, have a look.)

As use of the term “infrastructure” in tech has grown, it’s easy to lose sight of what actually gives Big Tech its power and what’s at stake when proposing alternatives to such centralization: capital, and who controls it. […]

With internet infrastructure, we’re not talking about a discrete piece of property that can be autonomously taken over: it’s cables and antennae and spectrum and all sorts of very expensive stuff that requires specialized technical maintenance, not to mention coordination with other interdependent systems. […]

Rather than assuming that the internet starts as massive nodes of platform data centers and internet exchanges, perhaps the last mile is actually the first step in working toward a different vision of who should own and govern the means of computation.