lecture: Invisible Infrastructures
Mapping the Serbian Internet
he Internet in its essence is not what most people perceive when online. It is an abstract space which gives limitless opportunities, but basically it consists of hardware, millions of servers, routers, cables and other network peripheral devices. Basically, in most cases, there is a physical cable or wireless connection reaching almost every corner of the world and every Internet user. Each and every network device of the Internet infrastructure has its own physical location. Some of them are grouped, which makes their locations a sort of “crossroads” of the Internet.
One of the reasons we seldom discuss the issues of this invisible infrastructure is the fact that the speed of the packets traveling through the network is so big and unnoticeable to us, in most cases we don’t feel a significant difference in whether our packets are traveling just around the corner or to around the world and back.
The fact that we are not able to perceive this difference does not change the fact that those packets, during just a little fragment of a second, travel through thousands of kilometers of cables, myriad of routers and switches, different national territories and a number of potential spots where they can be retained, slowed down, stored, copied or examined.
Unlike the telephone network, which for many years was a monopoly run by a single company in most countries, the global Internet consists of tens of thousands of interconnected networks run by telecommunication companies, Internet service providers, individual companies, universities, governments, and others 1 . Those entities have different legal regimes, business and technical relationships, privacy policies and ownership models. Even our most frequent and most sensitive communication relies on those entities. But even so, in most cases, our knowledge of how those networks are interconnected and how they deal with our data is left in the dark.
Start time: 12:00