If you couldn’t tell, we’re infrastructure geeks here at SmartPlanet. Energy, transportation, computing, cities themselves — we love to understand how things work in a macro view and then dive deep to better understand them.
Have you ever wondered what the Internet looked like? No, not the article you’re reading right now — the actual physical cables that ensure that digital zeroes and ones make their way across political boundaries and beneath the Earth’s largest oceans.
For a decade, Washington, D.C.-based telecom research company Telegeography has published a map of those cables — at least, the undersea ones. (They’re usually the people to call when an earthquake or other natural disaster hits and disrupts the Internet.) It cost $250, was on printed paper and was decidedly off-grid, as far as the Internet is concerned.
Gizmodo’s Andrew Blum notes this morning that the company is, today and for the first time, opening up the map to the public via Google Maps. And it’s a fascinating look at how our digital world is physically connected.
Rather than scraping data from Wikipedia, Telegeography’s Internet cartographers get information the old fashioned way: They ask the cable owners, who happily share the location of their landing stations and the current bandwidth capacity of their systems.
Whatever the method, it’s an interesting interactive. Check it out here.