It is strange that visual representations of the internet are always explicitly structured and often align with the perceived mental image of ‘network’. There is frequently an ethereal allure to these vaguely recognisable structures and a sense of tangibility and simultaneously an unfathomable, but believable, complexity. The recent rush for new methods of infographics has been captured in several books, most notably the two volumes of Data Flow and also in McCandless’s Information is Beautiful, but the beauty and complexity expounded in these compendiums is at odds with the physical infrastructure of the web; endless cables and wires that circumnavigate the globe at one scale and end up in tangled knots behind our desks at another. That isn’t to mention the vast server farms that are growing up next to a river near you (vast amounts of cooling water) and requiring the onward construction of new power stations to support the huge amount of energy consumed in data storage and processing.
At one end, yes, the web is strange, complex, alluring and beautiful, at the other its a messy, messy business.