research design laboratory

Personal Digital Archiving 2013


On February 21st, I will be presenting my work on the archive's underbelly at Personal Digital Archiving 2013 (@pda2013), at The Adele H. Stamp Student Union, University of Maryland, College Park.
As the quintessential personal digital archive, Facebook no longer requires an introduction; its user-base is currently estimated at one billion active monthly profiles, give or take a few fake accounts. On the front end, it’s the epitome of the user-generated content platform and of the postmodern living archive. Its underbelly, however, remains much less explored and theorized...
My presentation will offer up a series of provocations about data storage centers, as the archive’s underbelly, with the intent of reconnecting Facebook to the bodies and machines that enable it, and the ideals that inform it.
  • What kind of infrastructure and technologies are required to host such large amounts of ‘free’ information, offering up data so rapidly, across so many platforms?
  • How does Facebook’s advertising strategy inform how power is pulled from the grid?
  • How do its servers function?
  • How are they powered?
  • How many are there?
  • Where are they located?
  • What are the database logics (and assumptions) that inform the relationship between Facebook and the archive?
  • What choices are we making about how this global online archive should run?
  • What are our expectations?
  • Who benefits?
  • What are the costs?
  • (How) are these impacts measured?