Dan Schindel Presents

Imagined Cartographies

If I ask you to "picture the internet," what do you see in your mind's eye?

Something like this?

Or this?

Or this?

But are any of those images accurate?

They depict very literally the logistical relationships between various technologies that support the internet. But is that what it is?

If the internet can be mapped via its physical presence, then perhaps a we should impose its infrastructure on our existing maps.

Look at the growth of ARPANET, the precursor to the internet:

At some point, did this military/government communications network become the internet? If so, when?

If the internet is a network, then is it most appropriate to visualize it through these connections in the real world?

Whether it's through global connections....

Or the sites of major data centers....

Or undersea fiber-optic cables...

Is the internet, after all, truly "a series of tubes"?

We know that's not right.

So how can we properly conceptualize the ineffable, the data that flows between us through this all-pervasive entity?

Can it be visualized by literalizing the metaphor? Putting the connecting strings in 3D space?

That perhaps "feels" more true.... but is it any more accurate?

Is it possible our thinking isn't dimensional enough?

The internet is a giant web of one-way connections that are frequently broken, creating a tangle of millions of dead links.

This was not how it was conceived....

Our digital experience, and our thinking, is still trapped on paper.

It might actually be impossible, at this point, for a human mind to conceptualize the internet.



It is simply what you are doing  now. Looking at a screen. It is the relationship between you and the network.

It is us.

Right now.

Living in the scrolls and clicks.

Billions of times per second.


By Dan Schindel