Breaking Down the Server, Scaling Up the Infrastructure: The case of Meta's data centers

It is now widely reported that tech giants have been expanding their computing infrastructure for the past 15 years, creating global networks linking massive data centers with powerful subsea cables.

In this talk, I retrace the effort of tech giants to take a larger control over the design, operation, and maintenance of their data centers. I specifically show how Meta scaled up its infrastructure by “breaking down” data center components—such as servers and server cabinets—to better reassemble them using open source hardware and rhetoric. I will conclude by interrogating the new forms of power that Meta gain from this infrastructural model.


Dr Jean-Christophe Plantin is an Associate Professor at the Department of Media and Communications at LSE. His research investigates the platformization of data libraries and cybersecurity, the invisible labor of data cleaning in information systems, and the increasingly infrastructural role that digital platforms play in society.