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The Information Factories

By - October 03, 2006

This month’s Wired has a long piece (not up, but will be soon) by George Gilder on the “information factories,” the massive server farms that Google, Microsoft and others are building up in Oregon and in other places about the globe. I read it (and the rest of the magazine) on a trip to NY over the weekend, and found the piece singularly frustrating.

Gilder has always been a shiny eyed fetishist of the first order, and he keeps the breathless pace up with this piece, which does a good job of laying out they why of the plants (cheap power, “peta” processing efficiency, etc.), but fails utterly to even engage in the consequences of having the world’s data stored in top secret high security locations owned by private companies with little if any transparency about how that data might be used. What about the social impact? Privacy, reconstruction of relationship of self to society, policy, data rights, etc.? Irrelevant in this blinkered paen to boundless techno utopianism. Even as I love blinkered paen to boundless techno utopianism, I’d expect more from Wired on an issue of this significance.

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8 thoughts on “The Information Factories

  1. John, George has always been an ardent free-marketer. He sees absolutely no threat in the situation you lay out. Unfortunately, WIRED is just selling a future where we get to think less because private enterprise will do it for us.

  2. Deep says:

    I’ve never found Wired to be too interested in social ramifications of anything. They’ve always struck me as obsessively pro-tech, pro-gidget and most annoyingly, pro-insane-quantities-of-ads.

  3. I’ll be looking forward to reading that article. I feel, one more issue that will affect the massive information factories is their security – especially in these days when terrorists are looking for new targets.

  4. What Mitch said. And if you subscribe to Gilder’s newsletter for only $495 or whatever the greater fool is paying for it these days, maybe he’ll explain why he kept touting telecom stocks long after they started melting down.

  5. u_pinko_commie says:

    Geez, John, get off the socialist state band wagon and let the data freely roam. If it comes back to haunt you, well, so be it. You can always claim to be an alcoholic and go hiding. Like global warming, it’s all a hoax anyway. God, I love America!

  6. Joe Hunkins says:

    C’mon now John, it’s not like all those millions of stored databases of intentions belong to the people who created them!

    They belong to …. ummm …. Google, Yahoo, and MSN because they could never do anything but act in our best interests with that wealth of info.

  7. Michael J. says:

    > I’d expect more from Wired on an issue of this significance.

    You’re living in the past. They are a lifestyle magazine. The days when Wired mattered are long since past. Occasionally there is an important article (Long Tail comes to mind) but really–how often does that happen?

  8. tombo says:

    And not a single mention of Amazon, a company that’s actually offering these services today via ECC and S3! That seemed a glaring omission.

    I did find myself wondering about how cheap, reliable power might have for the future of the pacific NW (my home), but yeah, guess all the associated (read: interesting) issues were too deep for the Gildster.

    Did love how he massaged in a bit of telecosm there at the end though. An oldie but a goodie. 🙂