Speaker Series

The Rise of a Hybrid Giant: Google’s Infrastructure and the End of Network Neutrality

Scholars in Town Speakers Series

John Harris Stevenson Ph.D. candidate, University of Toronto iSchool

During the first decade of the 2000s, Google Inc. was a strong proponent of the principle of network neutrality, the notion that all Internet traffic should be treated more or less equally. In his book The Master Switch, Tim Wu argued that network neutrality was vital to Google’s viability as a business, yet in 2010, Google appeared to abandon the network neutrality policy debate. Why?

Over the past 17 years, Google has poured vast resources into the creation of one of the world’s largest technological infrastructures, a global system of several million servers connected by both the public Internet and Google’s own global networks. During this presentation we will explore how Google’s infrastructure drastically reduced the company’s reliance on the public Internet while allowing Google to build strong interdependencies with Internet service providers.

Using data drawn from documentary evidence and technical analysis of Google’s network topology we will explore Google’s transformation into a “hybrid giant” that transcends the traditional “content versus carrier” dichotomy. This talk explores some of the implications that flow out of Google’s ‘infrastructural turn’ and what they might mean for the future of network neutrality.

About John:

John is a PhD researcher at the University of Toronto’s iSchool specializing in Internet governance. His work focuses on mapping Google’s global system of networks and servers, and decoding the company’s strategies on network neutrality. John is a founding director of Canada’s Forum for Research and Policy in Communications and has presented to the CRTC numerous times on media and internet regulation.

Please come out to his informal talk after the department’s faculty meeting on Friday, likely followed by a friendly get-together at a nearby venue afterwards.

Friday, November 20, 2:30-4:00

Faculty Boardroom, River Building

School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University


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