Field Guide to the Internet Infrastructure of New York City

Author and researcher Ingrid Burrington has a new project which involves decoding the cryptic physical infrastructure of the internet in New York City. This includes cables, relay boxes, wi-fi antennas and repeaters, and even the spray-painted symbols that ISP's like Time Warner Cable places on the street to identify what lies below. The project is called Seeing Networks.

When you think about or use the internet, what do you see?

For a lot of people, the answer is that they see screens–browsers, software, laptops, phones. Maybe they see some hardware in the form of a wifi router. The internet is a network, but individual users mostly just get a glimpse of it, usually by peering into black mirrors. The most popular stock photography of internet infrastructure–data centers full of servers and cables–tends to make the physical internet feel clinical, distant, opaque.

The project is just getting started and already has some fascinating tidbits up, but as Burrington aptly notes,

An online field guide to network infrastructure is an OK way to share information about infrastructure, but when you are out in the world actually seeing infrastructure maybe you don’t want to pull up some website on your phone.

So, she is also making a book. You can preorder the field book now for just $25.

Matt Coneybeare

Matt Coneybeare

Editor in Chief

Matt enjoys exploring the City's with his partner and son. He is an avid marathon runner, and spends most of his time eating, running, and working on cool stuff.

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