“bundled, buried, and behind closed doors” – mammoth // building nothing out of something

“bundled, buried, and behind closed doors”

[“Bundled, Buried, and Behind Closed Doors”, a documentary short by Ben Mendelsohn and Alex Chohlas-Wood, looks at one of our favorite things — the physical infrastructure of the internet — and, in particular, the telco hotel at 60 Hudson Street. It’s particularly fascinating to see how 60 Hudson Street exhibits the “tendency of communications infrastructure to retrofit pre-existing networks to suit the needs of new technologies”: the building became a modern internet hub primarily because it was already a hub in earlier communications networks, permeated by pneumatic tubes, telegraph cables, and telephone lines, and thus easily suited to the running of fiber-optic cables. (This is important because it demonstrates the relative fixity of infrastructural geographies — like the pattern of the cities they are embedded in, the positions of infrastructures tend to endure even as the infrastructures themselves decay and are replaced.)]

7 Responses to ““bundled, buried, and behind closed doors””

  1. Great blog! Thanks so much for posting the video – your writeup is spot on. The “relative fixity of infrastructural geographies” was a driving fascination throughout this project – with so much focus on the change that new technologies bring, I think it’s super important (and enlightening) to concentrate some attention on continuities as well.

  2. namhenderson says:

    Does such fixity scale i wonder? I could think of two opposing examples. The sort of rail to trial model of infrastructural corridors/tracks etc used for a new infrastructure of recreation etc but also of say dams, or power plants. Is it the case that these positions are reused? I suppose if you include used as ecological infrastructure than yes, but….

    • Rob says:

      I think the answer to the question — “does this fixity scale” — is “yes, but not always”. Which is a dull answer, in the abstract; the interest is in the specifics.

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  4. Do you reckon we could figure out where our digital objects – say our many Google docs and Dropbox files – geographically reside? The specific architectures where they live?

    • Rob says:

      I don’t know, but I sure want to.

    • Stephen says:

      Even knowing how many places they reside would be interesting. Or something like GPS for data, which traces geographical information movement as it is backed up and deleted and edited – sprawling out across multiple locations throughout the country when we are all editing a doc together, then contracting again to its core storage points after our browser windows close.