Internet infrastructure can process information at speeds much faster than the onflow of human temporal experience, seemingly fostering “immediate” interaction with information and with one another, untethered from the processes of mediation. This phenomenon and its relation to changing temporal sensibilities associated with the use of digital technologies have been explored extensively across a range of literatures. Remaining under-analyzed is how particular conceptions of, or assumptions about, time and temporality may be designed and built into devices and infrastructure in the first place. That is, how is time constructed and constrained by the tools used – programming languages, mathematical equations and visual representations of designs that render time spatially? And second, how do principals articulate the time and temporality of their projects with relation to past, present and future in the context of technological innovation and change?
My dissertation project studies the aforementioned questions first in the context of Named Data Networking (NDN) an Internet infrastructure project that is currently underway. NDN architecture engineers and developers are building a new global Internet routing and transport architecture that will challenge many of the features, and indeed replace, the longstanding Internet Protocol (IP). The project includes discourse analysis of interviews, documents and code from selected NDN applications, guided by a temporal concepts drawn from literature on time and temporality, to understand how these may manifest in and influence the development of NDN architecture. In order to contextualize NDN's practices, I examine other Future Internet Architecture (FIA) projects that also develop time-sensitive applications that run on new networking architectures that seek to improve upon IP.
image above: Julie Mehretu, 2013