This article originally appeared on Motherboard Netherlands. People sometimes forget that the internet isn't an elusive cloud in the sky. It's anchored in the ground by an infrastructure of cables and data centers. It's in these data centers where everything from your sensitive banking transactions to silly memes are hosted, and that businesses like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Netflix spend hundreds of millions of dollars building across the world. Anything and everything that has to do with the internet is processed in these centers.
Amsterdam is one of Europe's most important data hubs. In recent years, the city has experienced more growth in data centers than its major European competitors of Frankfurt, London, and Paris. According to the Dutch Datacenter Association, the total data capacity of all the Amsterdam-based data centers combined increased by 30 percent in the past year alone, surpassing Frankfurt to become the second largest data center in Europe after London.
Motherboard photographer Kas van Vliet went to Atom86, a data center near the Schiphol Airport, to photograph these silent engines of the economy. His work looks like a detailed study of Masamune Shirow's Ghost in the Shell.
Translated by Meredith Balkus.