Noah points to this piece over at The Baffler which poses the same question—what does the internet look like?—and ends with this bit of disenchantment:
The problem isn’t really that we don’t know what the Internet looks like. It’s that what it looks like is so horribly ugly: not a glistening Tootsie Roll pop, not an open freeway, not a shimmering clear pool of chlorinated water nor a siren-littered sea, not even a chiseled movie star, but giant, hulking factories dotting the landscape of the Pacific Northwest and the Eastern Seaboard, covering old landfills, sprawling, like dozens of Costcos smashed together, stacked with metal and diesel generators and powerful cooling systems, crossed by power lines that deliver 2 percent of the world’s energy to the so-called cloud, where your tax returns and credit card statements cross paths with Medicare files and corporate budgets and your old love letters and the photos of Jennifer Aniston’s newest boyfriend.
So, I totally disagree.
I think the internet is the screens. Without the screens, who cares? Without the screens, it’s just a bunch of derivative-trading-bots talking to each other. The screens make it interesting—they’re the magic portals, the magic mirrors. My visualization of the internet ignores the server-farms and the network spaghetti. Instead it’s a mosaic of all those screens, some on phones and some on laps and some on walls, but more and more of them over time, all getting bigger and brighter.
Yeah, actually, I think my internet might be the Transparent City.