海底雲端： 網際網路的基礎設施探問 Clouds Deep in the Sea: The Infrastructural Inquiry of the Internet
infrastructure, Internet, media, submarine cable, system
社會作為一個有機體的系統思維，起源於交通與傳播基礎設施在空間上的擴張。本文依此思想的物質基礎，探討網際網路作為一個溝通系統的基礎設施意涵。本文首先探討系統概念與近代交通及通訊網絡的關聯性，並依此主張以基礎設施作為探索網際網路系統意涵的視角。取徑人類學者Geoffrey Bowker與Susan Leigh Star的討論，本文將線纜視為彰顯網路社會意涵的「邊界物」，並探究這項連結的基礎設施在社群以及地理空間整合上的關鍵角色。就社群連結而言，線纜透過劃一的通訊協定，使得網路在研發階段整合了包括戰略、科學與商業企圖的社群，因此體現其作為社會－技術制度的特性。就地理空間的連結而言，海底電纜的鋪設與斷線涉及的多重地緣政治的意涵，包括網路線纜如何遂行全球監視系統，以及線纜越洋連結帶動的高科技走廊或科技園區如何具體化數位資本主義的向外連結、對內產生掠奪與排除的資本積累邏輯。
Society as an organic system has taken root in the spatial expansion of transportation and communication media. In the light of this materialistic epistemology, the article presents the infrastructural dimensions of the Internet as a communication system, unfolding a discussion with the affinity of the system as a concept with the development of modern transportation and communication networks. From canals, to railways, to radio masts and submarine cable lines, the physical layout of modern transportation and communication infrastructure has, at different times, inspired various thoughts of society as an organic system. The article proposes to use infrastructure as a conceptual entry point to explore the Internet as a communication system. By way of Geoffrey Bowker and Leigh Star’s characterization of infrastructure, the article singles out cable as a crucial boundary object with social and geo-political implications: Socially, the Internet as a technology of connectivity has been a work of collaboration since its incubation stage. Via wired computers under a unified communication protocol, this network technology at the seminal stage underwent a process of social integration, linking diverse communities of practice with heterogeneous interests in national defense, science, and business. Therefore, the Internet fully manifested itself as a socio-technical system. The boundary character of the Internet is also apparent in the transoceanic connection of the submarine cable. Geo-politically, this cable has been, and still is, the acting agent of surveillance systems on a global scale. The risk of disconnection reflects the ongoing conflict and struggle among international political power blocs. In addition, high-tech corridors and zones benefitting from the transoceanic cable linkage substantiate the logic of accumulation through the dispossession characteristic of digital capitalism.