What do we talk about when we talk about infrastructure?

The infra in infrapuncture

Infrastructure is fundamentally a relational concept, it can be understood in the context of an organised practice. Susan Leigh Star gives the example of the water system, which for a person who washes dishes in a restaurant is essential infrastructure. However, for an plumber or a city planner, the water system is a topic, something that needs to be designed or repaired.

In broad strokes, when we talk about digital infrastructure, we can refer to all of the things that make our participation online possible and are very often invisible to the user. Infrastructure becomes most visible upon breakdown.

Infrapuncture is a comely term at a moment in time when there is a lot of discussion around the political roles of automated agents in digital infrastructures. I will talk a little bit about the current landscape of bot interferences, the motivations behind them and why bots as infrapunctures can bring some relief in both senses of the word.