City, as distinct from The City, resides in buildings alien to our urban neighbourhoods. The purpose and functioning of the buildings that house City are so different infact that they are often exiled to secret spots in the middle of otherwise barren deserts.
There are an estimated 8.6 million data centers in the world, covering some 180 km2. This is over half the size of Inner London, a massive physical city that supports City. The largest 10 data centers shown above are each the size of entire city blocks.
If we consider the data world a contemporary version of Hobbes’ Leviathan, then it is (almost literally) contained in a black (or white) box. The Black Box is a symbol in computing, science and philosophy (Wittgenstein’s black box) which describes a system or device that can be understood only in terms of its inputs and outputs – its workings remain shrouded in mystery.
The Trendsmap is a realtime interactive map of the world’s tweets, illustrating where City’s attention is at any given time. However, to date, data visualisations like these, whilst revealing of our collective instantaneous obsessions, fail to capture that which is important or persistent within culture. Real-time recordings are nearly instantly overwritten, with no mechanism for memory. For a genuine interface with City, we need to include time and memory as variables in determining that which is valuable to us as a whole.