So Google has a satellite in orbit, and now it wants to take over the oceans too? The New York Times' Ashlee Vance just reported that Google has taken out a patent to create "water based datacenters," which are essentially barges that house cargo container-sized server farms. Is the mega-company about to create a floating data island on the high seas?
Back in the 1990s, we had Sealand, an abandoned military base in the North Sea that became a sovereign nation and gray-area server farm. But the tiny nation of Sealand has nothing on Google's latest plan, which would involve any number of these "datacenters." People stored their information in Sealand's "data haven" because they didn't want governments snooping around in it or subjecting it to weird national data-retention laws. Are there national laws that Google wants to evade? BLDG BLOG's Geoff Manaugh has another idea: Google might be working on massive, mobile data services to serve municipalities:
Perhaps Google's literally offshore experiment in information technology implies a coming world of privatized services at sea. A fleet of tankers shows up in a nearby port one day... and suddenly your city has telephone services. It's Archigram's instant city all over again, but on the level of specific – and highly billable – urban amenities. The services show up. The network takes over. Your city will never be the same.
Manaugh suggests that this could mean anything from blimps showing up to provide a city with an instant wireless network, to a barge that provides a city with backup power. Auckland could certainly have used a roving generator/network provider during its five-week power outage. But I prefer to imagine that Google's plan is to use these barges, floating in a no-one's-land unclaimed by any nation, to send uncensored data feeds to shore. Or, in the dystopian vision, to suck your data up and sell it to the U.S. government. After all, there is no Fourth Amendment in the middle of the Pacific! Top image by Alexander Trevi. Servers at Sea [via BLDG BLOG]