A closer look at the narratives, fantasies, and imaginaries built into large-scale computer networks. Colloquium session with scholar and poet Tung-Hui Hu and junior researcher Vanessa Graf.

This session looks at the Cloud in its various physical conditions, be that technology, network infrastructure, data storage solution, access modality, cultural norm, metaphor, or – simply! – water. Taking the metaphors in large-scale computing seriously, the colloquium homes in on both imaginaries and technologies of water in modern-day computing, opening up a discussion ranging from the physical intricacies of building and running data centers to the flows and ebbs of global logistics all the way to financial (and other) speculations.

Beginning with a morning guided visit to a local data center in Basel and continuing in the afternoon with a discussion between guest scholar and poet Tung-Hui Hu, junior researcher Vanessa Graf, and colloquium participants, the session hopes to examine the socio-technical imaginaries that turn (fantastical) visions of the future into concrete.

#data #water #imaginaries #narrative #cloud #fabulation #datacenter #environment


Registration for the data center visit is closed. But feel free to join us in the afternoon for the discussion.

Meeting point @ local data center (further information will be communicated to you after registration)

Check-in at data center reception

Tour through the data center

Lunch Break

Meeting back at the CML for an afternoon discussion session


Tung-Hui Hu is a poet and a media scholar. Hu currently lives in Rome, where he is a 2022-23 Rome Prize Fellow in Literature at the American Academy in Rome. He is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Greenhouses, Lighthouses, which grew out of his graduate studies in film, as well as two studies of digital culture, A Prehistory of the Cloud and Digital Lethargy: Dispatches from an Age of Disconnection, an exploration of burnout, isolation, and disempowerment in the digital underclass. A former network engineer, he is an associate professor of English at the University of Michigan. He is at work on two new projects: a book of poems on the idea of punishment, and a book on digital infrastructure in the global South. He has received an American Academy in Berlin Prize for his research and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship for his poetry. His poems have been published in places such as Boston Review, The New Republic, Ploughshares, the Academy of American Poets’s Poem-a-Day, and the anthology Family Resemblance: An Anthology and Exploration of Hybrid Literary Genres. In 2023–24, he will be a Humboldt Research Fellow at Martin-Luther-Universität Halle, Germany.

For preparation