The Shapes of Spaces — Physical Traces

Other physical changes shape cities as new ICT industries emerge. ICT infrastructure leaves physical marks on urban space, which make visible the often tenuous power relationships underpinning them. All of the complex data-processing and multimedia processing facilities upon which technopoles depend are supported by other infrastructures, such as the telephone network, the electrical grid, and fresh- and waste-water services. of building1.html

Pile (2001) describes how ICT infrastructures are physically integrated into urban areas, sharing space with highways, sewers, electrical conduits and other essential switches and wires in what Graham (2004) calls the “murky, dirty, and difficult spaces of the city’s often ignored underground realm” (p. 144). Indeed, new communications infrastructure often follows the traces of the old, threading along corridors created for electricity or telephone lines, or colonizing old office buildings for use as “telecom hotels.’ Graham writes, “telecom hotels are anonymous, windowless buildings and massive, highly fortified spaces which house the computer and telecommunications equipment for the blossoming commercial internet” (Graham, 2004 p.171). They need to be located close to the centres of IT development and as such often move into office space vacated by a decentralizing office market. Their presence often marks the location of key zones of power and influence, as much or even more than the purpose-built IT districts and gentrified urban cores. As much as we imagine ICTs to free information and individuals from the constraints of place, they are very much connected physically as well as politically to individual locations.