image: Shapiro's laptop & Chris Watterston

image: Shapiro’s laptop & Chris Watterston

Interesting article from The Atlantic (a new favorite website and daily news email of mine): Why Amazon’s Data Centers Are Hidden in Spy Country. The author tries to track down the actual, physical data-centers that make up Amazon Web Services’ “US-East” region, as well as the historical reasons why they’re all somewhere in Northern Virginia.

That’s the main part, and interesting enough on its own, but then the conclusion gets very suddenly philosophical, which I found hilarious, but touching, too.

And maybe my desire to submerge myself in that sediment, to weave The Cloud into the timelines of railroad robber-barons and military R&D, emerges from the same anxiety that makes me go try to find these buildings in the first place: that maybe we have mistaken The Cloud’s fiction of infinite storage capacity for history itself. It is a misunderstanding that hinges on a weird, sad, very human hope that history might actually end, or at least reach some kind of perfect equipoise in which nothing terrible could ever happen again. As though if we could only collate and collect and process and store enough data points, the world’s infinite vaporware of real-time data dashboards would align into some kind of ultimate sand mandala of total world knowledge, a proprietary data nirvana without terror or heartbreak or bankruptcy or death, heretofore only gestured towards in terrifying wall-to-wall Accenture and IBM advertisements at airports.