To the Cloud: Big Data in a Turbulent World
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Cloud computing and big data are arguably the most significant forces in information technology today. In the wake of revelations about National Security Agency (NSA) activities, many of which occur "in the cloud", this book offers both enlightenment and a critical view. Vincent Mosco explores where the cloud originated, what it means, and how important it is for business, government and citizens. He describes the intense competition among cloud companies like Amazon and Google, the spread of the cloud to government agencies like the controversial NSA, and the astounding growth of entire cloud cities in China. Is the cloud the long-promised information utility that will solve many of the world's economic and social problems? Or is it just marketing hype? To the Cloud provides the first thorough analysis of the potential and the problems of a technology that may very well disrupt the world.
era. Understanding cloud computing absolutely requires an appreciation of its materiality, of its substantial physicality and its extraordinary demands on the environment. There are many other ways to describe this dance of petabytes and zettabytes, and we will certainly explore some of these, but suffice it to say that nothing in the history of communication and information processing 38 C hapter 2 approximates in scale the levels of storage, processing, and distribution that the cloud
position themselves against each other. Another good example is Samsung, which, as it faced off against Apple in a set of patent-infringement cases, went from practically no Washington lobbying presence to spending $800,000 on lobbying the American capital in 2012, including $480,000 in the fourth quarter alone (Quinn 2013). Not all lobbying takes place in national capitals, though. Because cloudcomputing data centers require locations that offer cheap land, low utility rates, and tax breaks,
warehouse. Instead they are filled with active devices and systems, including rack upon rack of servers processing data and multiple power and cooling sources. According to a lawyer for Microsoft, “The heart of the cloud are these data centers, and the data centers are really at the heart of Microsoft’s business” (Glanz 2012a). We now have tens of thousands of data centers spanning the world, permitting people to instantly download their Google mail, search on Baidu, buy music and movies from
be automated and lodged in the cloud, Amazon still requires a large workforce in the developed world to efficiently locate and distribute its products. So in spite of the company’s high-tech image, Amazon workers at a typical warehouse walk between seven and fifteen miles every day carrying handheld devices that direct and monitor their every move to locate ordered goods in its warehouses and package them individually. To maximize productivity, the company regularly advises workers on more
the harmony and the conflict creates space for a critical understanding of the cloud. Cloud computing accelerates a powerful and influential way of knowing that is called on to address significant issues facing global capitalism. In its near-magical brilliance at certain tasks, the cloud has seduced many of its proponents to see it as the primary, if not the only, means of solving problems, pushing to the sidelines ways of knowing and seeing the world that have guided humanity over the centuries.