What kinds of infrastructures and relations underpin data societies? How is the heat of data streams being harnessed and commodified by data centre operators? How does the commodification of infrastructural discard modify the ways in which we live with and feel data? Join us for a public talk with Julia Velkova (University of Helsinki).

Data that Warms: Remaking our Relations with Data through Commodifying Infrastructural Discard

Infrastructures are things and relations between things that allow the traffic of waste, power, and finances (cf Larkin). In the past few years, new infrastructural arrangements have been made between data centre operators and energy companies across Europe in order to commodify and traffic the waste heat that servers produce in the process of computing and storing ‘the cloud’, and dissipate it in urban homes and offices (Velkova 2016).

In this talk I draw on ongoing empirical work with data centre operators and energy companies located in Finland, Sweden and France to illuminate the cultural imaginaries, and actual infrastructural connections through which the meaning, the value and the ways in which we live with and feel data (Lupton 2018; Kristensen & Ruckenstein 2018; Kennedy & Hill 2017) are redefined. I argue that these new interconnections have crucial implications for the data economy, energy politics, and urban life that become intimately interconnected, and literally powered by data streams.

Bio: Julia Velkova (@jvelkova) is a post-doctoral researcher at the Consumer Society Research Centre at the University of Helsinki. Her current project explores the waste economies behind the production of ‘the cloud’ with focus on the production and management of residual heat, temporalities and spaces of data centres in the Nordic countries. Her work on data centres has been published in Big Data & Society, and is also forthcoming in a special edition of Culture Machine.

This event is part of an ongoing seminar series on “critical inquiry with and about the digital” hosted by the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London. If you tweet about the event you can use the #kingsdhhashtag or mention @kingsdh. If you’d like to get notifications of future events you can sign up to this mailing list.



Date and time

Wed 16 January 2019
16:00 – 17:30 GMT


The Old Anatomy Lecture Theatre, K6.29
Strand Campus, King’s College London


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