free html hit counter Lenoir, North Carolina | John Battelle's Search Blog

Lenoir, North Carolina

By - June 06, 2008

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Google just opened a data center in Lenoir, NC (no Google ads on the home page, must fix that guys). The Governor, the County Commish, the Mayor, and hundreds of citizens showed up for a ribbon cutting and a BBQ. What I could find on the county was that it had a lot of lore about ghosts, and the local paper covered Nascar pretty well. Now, that’s pretty much Every County, USA (and as someone who ditched school for a semester to drive around the country, I love Lenoir already). So why did Google choose THIS parish? Hmmm?

PS – the main street looks just like the set of that town in Back to the Future, don’t it?

Reminds me of vague memories of towns that lobbied to have the railroads run through them. Check out this thread, where locals argue over whether or not local government offered too many tax incentives/breaks to lure Google to the county…

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  • http://media-tech.blogspot.com Didier DURAND

    You mean “Lenoir” rather than “Lenior” in title. Right?
    didier

  • http://kidding.us nmw

    Ummm… so what?!?

    I think this is *really* fluffy — I don’t understand why I should need to know about this. Can somebody help me out with understanding why I (or *anyone* in the “Searchblog audience”) should care about this? (maybe I’m missing something?) To me, this feels alot like like reading the classified ads (for lack of other reading)….

  • http://battellemedia.com John Battelle

    Sheesh. First I misspell everything in the titles (I fixed that) then nmw hates the post. I just thought it was sweet, and the idea of a town competing so hard to get Googles server farms was touching. The idea that the town looked a lot like towns built by the railroads completed the thought, though I realize now I didn’t really make the connection too well.

  • nmw

    Sorry — maybe I went a little AWOL.

    I should perhaps do (or at least attempt) a better job of explaining. So I’ve put on a jazz record (instrumental music is always best for promoting “free thought” — listening to Pat Metheny ;) ….

    The point (IMHO) is that the title is “SearchBlog”, not “DataCenterBlog” — hmm,… maybe that already sums it up?

    Well, OK, maybe more detail: Algorithms have become commoditized — I think there’s hardly anyone today who would dare to argue otherwise (counting links isn’t exactly rocket science). So what is Google? A data center? A media business? Whose media?

    So this seems to be a rather watershed point for the SearchBlog: Which way from here? The Internet is simply too big for a single search engine — and I applaud Kamal Jain’s commentary (indeed, it almost sounds like something I could have said):

    In fact, for me personally, one search engine does not fit all my needs — not Google, not Yahoo, and not even my own employer’s (Microsoft) search engine. Often I know from my query type which search engine I want to try first. For an example, if I have an academic query I might try Google first. For commercial intent queries, I might try Live search first. If I precisely know what I want to buy, I might try Amazon first, but going forward I might try cashback.com to pocket some free money.

    http://battellemedia.com/archives/004489.php#comment_131688

    So perhaps it’s time to start a DataCenterBlog, an OtherPeoplesMediaBlog, maybe an OpenSocialBlog or a GSpotBlog,… and maybe Danny can launch a DataCenterLand and maybe a PutAPinOnAMapLand, or maybe a GMoonLand,… I don’t know — I guess the possibilities are *endless*.

    But I think what is becoming clear is that the “one-size fits-all” notion of “search” is now outdated — that was web 2.0. It’s time to move on (or return?) to the web that is a distributed network — and that is one in which centralized data centers (again) sound quite old fashioned.

    I recently “learned” on a website populated primarily by teenagers that “cloud computing” does not refer to one cloud but rather to many clouds. Maybe your next book title could be (instead of “The Search”): “Some Cloud”(?)

  • Ferruccio Fortini

    Why Lenoir (and nearby spots) for data centers? Doesn’t take THAT much search savvy to find e.g. http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9015038 which explains “North Carolina has something that may be attractive to data centers, and that’s relatively low power cost: 4.5 cents to 5 cents per kWh, said Millar. In other areas of the U.S., electricity costs 6 cents per kWh, 11 cents per kWh or more. This particular area in Catawba also has a strong electric grid infrastructure, which was built to support furniture makers” (and, as wikipedia explains, Lenoir’s main employer used to be Broyhill, one of the US’s largest furniture makers).
    Similarly, Google’s The Dalles data center in Oregon, and Microsoft’s, Yahoo’s etc in Washington state, are there chiefly because of the cheap hydroelectric power afforded by the Columbia river (what’s now Google’s site at The Dalles used to house an aluminum smelter, an even more power-intensive plant than a furniture factory).
    As e.g. http://searchdatacenter.techtarget.com/news/article/0,289142,sid80_gci1255876,00.html explains, “it’s power, power, power in the site selection for data centers” — as these issues have been well publicized for years now, I’m pretty disappointed to see a prestigious blogger and writer so unaware of them.

  • http://www.TurnKeyParlor.com Neil

    Nothing wrong with writing about a cool little town in NC that will store a piece of the data base of intentions. If you start worrying too much about your posts being specific or relevant, you won’t post as much and we don’t want that. As they might say in Lenoir, “git er done!”

  • Mel

    Wow. nmw needs to put the coffee down for a day.

    I think a few of these places are starting to see the same realization – In exchange for millions in tax breaks and incentives, they get increased demand on the local grid, and a couple hundred jobs for people to keep the servers running.

    Google wants cheap power, cheap land, and to not have to pay taxes. That’s all.

  • http://conversative.net nmw

    Mel,

    I would have no problem with John’s story if this blog were about data centers, cheap power, cheap land, taxes, the economy or perhaps even Hollywood movies (or something like that).

    Now I would indeed be wrong to suggest that anything John might find amusing or interesting or maybe just touches his heart with a certain sentimental color is indeed a wonderful addition to the SearchBlog (which, indeed, is actually “battellemedia.com”).

    Maybe I just don’t “understand it” — but I do admit that John’s added remark comparing Google’s influence to the “planned” towns/cities created industrial magnates in centuries past did alot to “explain” his motivation.

    In that context, it will indeed be interesting (for our children?) to see what Google’s “legacy” is — will it simply be to get cheap land, get cheap labor, get cheap power — get, get, get?!?

    The school I attended as a child had the following words written in big letters near the entrance: “With all thy getting, get understanding”. Every morning I would read those words, and think about their meaning. I guess they were chosen in the context of giving meaning to why education is important.

    Since then I have come to value and cherish those words — and I have also thought of them many times again, and now I notice I have actually transported them into new contexts (such as “getting the political regime you deserve”).

    So I wonder whether perhaps my initial “pushing back” on this topic has somehow added to the conversation instead of stamping it out — at least I hope that is the case.

    Otherwise, please accept my apologies if I have taken the topic “off track” (no pun intended ;) ….

  • http://english.org.in nmw

    getting English grammar — I guess:

    “is indeed a wonderful addition”

    should read

    “were not indeed a wonderful addition”

    Sorry — my fingers don’t always work the way they’re supposed to!

    ;D nmw

  • http://www.8asians.com John

    Regarding your reference to Back to the Future – you mean Hill Valley, California? Well, that set burned down at Universal Studios on June 1st – which is a shame.

  • http://www.jacklail.com/ Jack Lail

    Whoops, the link for Lenoir goes to the county of Lenoir, but the data center is in the city of Lenoir. North Carolina, being the way it is, the two aren’t remotely in the same area. The data center is the western North Carolina town of Lenoir while Lenoir County is in the eastern part of the state.

  • http://region.name nmw

    Not only that, but in the “title” field of the linked-to HTML document the name of the county also seems to be misspelled.

    I guess we live in an era of “did you mean?”…

  • Billy

    The town Square hasn’t looked like that since the early 1960′s. I couldn’t find documents to exact date it was changed.