Before taking a course called “Ghosts in Shells? Virtuality and Embodiment from Passing to the Posthuman” with Professor Marisa Parham, I had a relatively unquestioned idea of the Internet as a nebulous, mystical creation. I fell into the language often used to describe it: “cloud”-like, unlimited, intangible. Think here of the many images of “cloud-based” services that we are surrounded with:
Even in moments when I considered the internet as a “physical” space, I was still thinking of it in abstractions not too different from those of a cloud. I was imagining it as a world of suspended time and reality. I was imagining a hyper-reality immeasurable by “our” standards of time and space; an alternate universe where images and text loop indefinitely into one another.
I did not think of the real-life mechanisms behind what powered my Yelp search for a nearby restaurant or my Instagram checkin simply because the connection between internet and reality did not exist in my mind.
However the internet is real, it is physical. It exists in the lived world around us. When you break down “the internet” into its relative parts, you can see that it is made of wires, blinking lights, large data centers. It exists, too, in satellites and even internet balloons hovering above us. For every click I make and every word I’ve typed while browsing the internet, there exists some hard drive where my information is stored.
There is an analog, one-to-one physical relationship involved in our internet presence.
I started thinking about the physicality of the internet as previously mentioned through my course with Professor Parham. She introduced us to the ever-haunting map of underwater sea cables:
These cables connect 99% of the world’s internet.
I created this blog to continue thinking about the structures that Professor Parham introduced me to. I want to think through the internet as a tangible space; a “tangible net” if you will. This blog will highlight the environmental impact of the internet, how it has literally shaped our world, and what we can consider while moving forward into increasingly uncharted territory post-internet. I also want to think about how the internet was structured and who it was/is “meant for” according to said structures.
- Project Lead: Katarina Cruz
- Collaborators: Marisa Parham, Sheila Chukwulozie
- Published: Spring 2017