How do you envision The Internet?

Surely we all must have some intuitive sense of “where” The Internet “is” relative to our own computer(s). We probably suspect that it’s somewhere outside the room we’re in, on past our immediate surroundings somewhere, perhaps connected in some way with phone lines or at least “out there” in some vague location. Maybe it’s just beyond sight, maybe it’s “downtown” somewhere, in the next county or state, in some magical region of some country, hovering in space just above our heads, deep underground, through some wormhole in the Universe.

I’ve seen terms like “out there” often enough, but also “down there” or “up there” or “over there” and maybe even “in there.”

But in what general direction, by way of what preposition, do you like to associate yourself with The Internet? When you “get on” The Internet, after you have made a few keystrokes or a few mouse clicks, just what and where have you “gotten on”?

Be as specific as your image of it will allow.

The internet is located in the Meat Packing District of Manhatten, disbursed throughout several run-down warehouses, with a few nicer offices on the upper floors. For the most part, the area is free of violent crime, but if you wander the many alleys between the buildings, you can get drugs, sex and otherwise feed every other illicit vice you may foster. Of course, you can also buy books, Gap™ clothes, and Pink Flamingos in those same alleys.

All in all, it’s a pretty seedy place, and I wouldn’t want my kids going there.

My mental image of the internet is just a big net surrounding the earth. I never really thought about much beyond that, though.

It smells like a college dorm on Monday morning.

I don’t think of it as a place. I don’t really think about that at all. It just kind of is.

Maybe that has something to do with my age. The internet has been around for as long as I remember, so I just take it for granted. (I’m 16, by the way)

I think of packets traveling through copper tubes heading toward little stations where they turn into pulses of light and go screaming off through the traffic routers and create a beautiful virtual light show of Dance with only occasional collision.


I just kind of think of it as a big magazine about everything.

You know that warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark ?
It’s in one of those boxes.

Well, I’m geeky enough to know how the Internet really works. I understand TCP/IP (not intimately, but at a level where I can usually follow RFCs and other documentation) and HTTP and many of the other protocols that make the Internet work on a daily basis. Most of it is really simple, at least in overview.

More metaphorically, I see it as a vast feudal landscape complete with grand shining cities, unregarded hinterlands, and barbaric badlands. There is very little overarching governance and most large-scale organization is achieved through rough consensus between various local powers. There are cultures young and old, living and dying, remembered and forgotten. I see my little machine as a tiny house connected by a cow path to a larger highway that (eventually) leads to a huge multi-lane freeway that travels the whole world.

The big advantage of the Internet isn’t the idea of being able to connect two computers. That was done decades before the Internet, and was even done by home users before the Internet had left its childhood home of academic and large corporate machine rooms. The advantage of the Internet was that huge globe-spanning multi-lane freeway. For the first time, you could make one local phone call and talk directly (via a transparent protocol) to a computer, and a person, halfway around the world. BBSes didn’t offer that, the old dial-up UUCP kind of offered it but not in real-time, and Ham radio is too direct and subject to byzantine FCC regulations.

No, ghostbuster is right - I saw it once.