World-Information City


  Report: Data Bodies

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  Data bunkers

Personal data are collected, appropriated, processed and used for commercial purposes on a global scale. In order for such a global system to operate smoothly, there a server nodes at which the data streams converge. Among the foremost of these are the data bases of credit card companies, whose operation has long depended on global networking.

On top of credit card companies such as Visa, American Express, Master Card, and others. It would be erroneous to believe that the primary purpose of business of these companies is the provision of credit, and the facilitation of credit information for sale transactions. In fact, Information means much more than just credit information. In an advertisement of 1982, American Express described itself in these terms: ""Our product is information ...Information that charges airline tickets, hotel rooms, dining out, the newest fashions ...information that grows money funds buys and sells equities ...information that pays life insurance annuities ...information that schedules entertainment on cable television and electronically guards houses ...information that changes kroners into guilders and figures tax rates in Bermuda ..."

Information has become something like the gospel of the New Economy, a doctrine of salvation - the life blood of society, as Bill Gates expresses it. But behind information there are always data that need to be generated and collected. Because of the critical importance of data to the economy, their possession amounts to power and their loss can cause tremendous damage. The data industry therefore locates its data warehouses behind fortifications that bar physical or electronic access. Such structures are somewhat like a digital reconstruction of the medieval fortress

Large amounts of data are concentrated in fortress-like structures, in data bunkers. As the Critical Art Ensemble argue in Electronic Civil Disobedience: "The bunker is the foundation of homogeneity, and allows only a singular action within a given situation." All activities within data bunker revolve around the same principle of calculation. Calculation is the predominant mode of thinking in data-driven societies, and it reaches its greatest density inside data bunkers. However, calculation is not a politically neutral activity, as it provides the rational basis - and therefore the formal legitimisation most every decision taken. Data bunkers therefore have an essentially conservative political function, and function to maintain and strengthen the given social structures.

browse Report:
Data Bodies
    Global data bodies - intro
-3   Feeding the data body
-2   Data body mealplan
-1   The plastic card invasion
0   Data bunkers
+1   Bureaucratic data bunkers
+2   Private data bunkers
+3   Global hubs of the data body industry
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