A political geography of the Internet

The Internet is breaking apart. Or is it? Recent moral panic around Internet fragmentation, or the “splinternet,” hides an uncomfortable truth: the Internet has never floated freely, untethered from political realities.

But where does state power lie on the Internet? Where are the national borders? Where and how are they shifting?

That’s the subject of a talk I’ll be giving at the School of Information this Friday at 3pm Pacific. Come if you’re able!

The Internet in different countries, clustered by similarity of content that’s blocked. Notice a main cluster of mostly-uncensored Internets, and a secondary cluster of Internets that block similar content. China and Venezuela’s Internet blocking policies are largely unique. See an interactive visualization here.

Other updates…

  • Some of our work on Internet & state power was just published in First Monday this month.

  • My collaborators Jesse Benjamin, Arne Berger and James Pierce and I have published a CHI paper on machine learning uncertainty as a design material.

  • In case you missed it, Richmond Wong and I published an article in ACM Interactions, grappling with how speculative design methods can better foster activism.

I hope you’ve had a restful and thoughtful MLK day.

Nick