Unsettling the Cloud: On Data Centers and Counter-Narratives

Ruben Stoffelen

Research output: Web publication or non-textual formWeb publication or websiteSocietal


As I gaze out of my window, I am met with a totem. This totem is gray and windowless, nestled in between offices and academic buildings. Behind it is a park, and the longer I stare, the deeper it becomes embedded in the natural landscape, after a bit I forget it’s there. But in the corner of my eye I can see another one; another totem. This one intimidates me with its red glow.

These buildings came to serve as mystical pillars of data flows to me, they became sites of reification, sites where the cloud finally condensed and data rained down. They assumed a posthuman status; high-tech facilities where humans are only needed to keep other humans out.

I always imagined data as something abstract, as a floating entity, but as my encounters with these pillars started a process of materialization, it simultaneously sparked a desire to interrogate and to demystify.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherHogeschool van Amsterdam, Lectoraat Netwerkcultuur
Media of outputOnline
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2023


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