In April 2023, the opening conference of the Critical Infastructure Lab took place at the UVA. The lab is focused on the study of media infrastructures and has three strands of research; geopolitics, standards, and environment. The conference contributions were also all grouped in to these strands and an additional Infrastructural Futures section. Unfortunately, I had to miss the first day. For the second day, I can say the CIL managed to bring together a remarkable network of practitioners and researchers, of which I highlight two keynote presentations that were particularly strong and timely. The one for the standards track was by Ksenia Ermoshina. It covered measuring the Russian annexation of the Ukrainian Internet and the use of infrastructure and standards tool for control in the Russian internet, and the subversion of those attempts by ISPs. Svitlana Matviyenko gave the one on the Environment track. Her talk explored Russia’s use of the environment as a tool for terror (a mere two months before the destruction of the Khakovka Reservoir Dam, widely believed at the hands of Russian military). Through her keynote, I got introduced to Svitlana’s blog on INC called Dispatches from the Place of Imminence. It is a harrowing account of daily life under the fog of war, reflections on media, and not knowing. I can strongly recommend following it.
As for myself, I presented some of my ongoing research in the Infrastructural Futures track. In the talk, I tried to pick apart and understand on-line federation as a more general socio-technical infrastructure in computing. I introduced some of the origins, the absolute confusion that the utilization of the famous network graph of Paul Baran introduces when discussing this subject, different sub-topologies I’ve identified across projects and finally why I think it is relevant to study this in more detail. As you can tell, I’m not sharing it here yet, and that is because I plan to make it part of another blog post. For now, I wanted to highlight my contribution to the event and add it to the archive. However, there are some notes on the presentations to be found on a puscii pad and a reflection on the conference.