Landlords of the Internet

The physical points of interconnection that knit together the network of networks we call the internet are
built and maintained by landlords.

Who owns the internet? It depends where you look. The physical assets at the core of the internet, the warehouses that store the cloud’s data and interlink global networks, are owned not by technology firms like Google and Facebook but by commercial real estate barons who compete with malls and property storage empires. Granted an empire by the US at the moment of the internet’s commercialization, these internet landlords shaped how the network of networks that we call the internet physically connects, and how personal and business data is stored and transmitted.

Under their governance, internet exchanges, colocation facilities, and data centers take on a double life as financialized real estate assets that circle the globe even as their servers and cables are firmly rooted in place. The history of internet landlords forces a fundamental reconsideration of the business model at the base of the internet. This history makes clear that the internet was never an exogenous shock to capitalist social relations, but rather a touchstone example of an economic system increasingly ruled by asset owners like landlords.

Read More at Daniel Greene’s Personal Website (PDF)

Read the rest at Daniel Greene’s Personal Website (PDF)