Data & Society > infrastructure > How Railroad History Shaped Internet History

blog post | 11.24.15

How Railroad History Shaped Internet History

Ingrid Burrington

D&S artist in residence Ingrid Burrington on how the history of infrastructure in the U.S. contributes to Iowa’s status a hub of the data-center industry.

Google didn’t come to Council Bluffs because of historical resonance. They came for the fiber, which runs parallel to Iowa’s many railroads and interstates. Rail infrastructure has shaped the language of the network, the constellation of companies that form the network (most famously with Sprint emerging from the Southern Pacific Railroad’s internal-communications network), and, most relevant to this story, the actual routes that fiber-optic networks run.

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