The Technium

The Internet Mapping Project


The internet is vast. Bigger than a city, bigger than a country, maybe as big as the universe. It’s expanding by the second. No one has seen its borders.

And the internet is intangible, like spirits and angels. The web is an immense ghost land of disembodied places. Who knows if you are even there, there.

Yet everyday we navigate through this ethereal realm for hours on end and return alive. We must have some map in our head.

I’ve become very curious about the maps people have in their minds when they enter the internet. So I’ve been asking people to draw me a map of the internet as they see it. That’s all. More than 50 people of all ages and levels of expertise have mapped their geography of online.  Here are three:

Map1

Map2

Map3

You can see them all here.

I’d love to have more folk maps of the internet. You can download a blank PDF here and email it to me when done.

This folk cartography might be useful for some semiotician or anthropologist.

In fact I’ll post the best taxonomies and interpretations of these maps submitted to me via comments or email.

UPDATE: A quick-thinking professor in Buenos Aires has extracted an emergent taxonomy from this first set of maps, as explained here.




Comments
  • Scott

    Not exactly what you asked for, but maybe still interesting for you.

    A map of online communities
    http://store.xkcd.com/xkcd/#OnlineCommunitiesPoster

    A map of the Internet’s address space.
    http://xkcd.com/195/

    (You can repost on your own site under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license http://xkcd.com/license.html )

  • Joe D

    Surely you’ve seen these excellent ones on xkcd:

    http://xkcd.com/256/

    http://xkcd.com/195/

  • http://www.kk.org Kevin Kelly

    @Joe and @ Scott: I had not seen xkcd’s maps, but they are exactly what I had in mind. Thanks!

  • Patrice Lamothe

    Hi Kevin

    I am definitly not found of commentator’s self promotion, but given what you wrote on internet mapping, I can’t help suggesting you to have a look at the social service I am running : http://www.pearltrees.com.

    Here you will not only see rough individual maps of the Web but each community members’ map of its web contents – Want an exemple? here is my map of the web : http://www.pearltrees.com/patrice . There is much mor: since all users’ map connect through their common contents, pearltrees will enable you to browse the very first collaborative map of Web contents… also to build yours, to use it to organize your contents, to connect and eventually discuss with other users through common contents.

    It’s not just another map, not even a larger map, it’s the first humanly edited map of the entire Web.

    Just hope you will like it!

  • anderS

    My view of the web is basically the sky you see at night in remote placs; a milkyway of little spots, some large some small, with a concentration in the centre and a lot of outliers. Basically a parallel universe.

    Here is an overview of data visualizations that get close to my view of the web:
    http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/06/50-great-examples-of-data-visualization/

    Some of them are already about the internet, some could easily be adjusted.

    And one in particular:
    http://www.wefeelfine.org/movements.html

    Not so much the net, but how people on the net feel. It’s great, though I think you (KK) already know it. It was presented at TED.

    PS
    Thank you for all the inspirational writings on your site. love to come here.

    Regards,

    anderS
    Amsterdam

  • anderS

    Sorry I’m not drawing, I’m just bad at that. Here is another mapping that is both datadriven and conceptually strong:
    http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=18944

    anderS
    Amsterdam

  • DSevere

    Interesting, but most of the maps are delusional as to true activity. The Internet is: mostly porn, followed by celebrity gossip in various formats, shopping, Twitter/facebook, iTunes, CNN and then there’s a small strange corner for every other imaginable thing that people go there for.

    And, lest someone think this is a criticism, my production company shoots porn, and I love twitter, I even love Perez Hilton.

    Just when I see drawings that give the Internet a nobility and magic — hey, I guess it is magic. It enables us to make a living as filmmakers in America, which is really fucking tough. I love the Internet, warts and all…

  • DSevere

    p.s. Google. duh.

  • jassy

    It’s really truth: “No one has seen its borders”!!
    Recently I have found an essay with reviews of these maps..I was impressed! Guys, They are funny!!
    Also, thank you very much for sharing this article!

  • SarahAngelinaJolie

    Custom essay
    Thank you very much for this helpful article and the remarks.

  • Esspweb

    Great work. Thanks for sharing. I really like it.