Gateways, sieves and domes: On the infrastructural topology of the Chinese stack
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionInternational Journal of Communication. 2021, 15, 2669-2692.
This article proposes a topological model capable of accounting for the scale and complexity of China’s digital infrastructure. Beginning with the troubled development of a submarine data cable between Los Angeles and Hong Kong, it identifies the limitations of topographical analyses of ICTs and then reviews theorizations of “the stack” as a topological model of planetary computation. To situate the stack model in the Chinese context, I draw on 3 case studies—QR codes, filtering, and cybersovereignty—exemplifying three topological configurations: the gateway, the sieve, and the dome. These configurations expand the conceptual vocabulary of the stack model at different scales, and provide useful tools for the analysis of computational infrastructures in Asia and beyond.