The Internet is no longer a pharmakon as the philosopher Bernard Stiegler presented it.
The image of a Manichean artefact, in which the worst and the best of communication have been developed, has become a black box, multiplying platforms and interaction nodes and obscuring the rules of use and control of its services. Internet is no longer just a network, a communication protocol, but is the result of the sum of its contents and practices throughout the world.
There is a real break between the utopian internet, shaped by the post-60s technohippie-libertarian culture, and our everyday connected life. For more than 20 years, the service industries have been shaking up this cybernetic landscape, this self-management environment, by offering minimalist conversation tools (social networks that are increasingly simplified the way we share information), by segmenting culture (online communities, video and music recommendation algorithms), by centralising the sale of goods (online commerce, market place), by creating mistrust between users (ranking, ratings, surveillance). It is difficult to look beyond the prism of the Internet user/consumer to appreciate the potential of the network and grasp the mechanics of our interactions.
As the sociologist Dominique Cardon proposes in the collective work La toile que nous voulons, « we must ask the design of web services to give us tools to zoom out in order to see the totalities». Proposing a map of the Internet to found its essence, its current mode of operation, and thus enable subscribers to have a better user experience is fundamental. It is the role of the graphic designer to refresh all these elements, and to give an image of the global structure of the internet.
It is within the framework of our master's degree and the Retour Aux Sources research programme at the École Supérieure d’Art de Cambrai, that we have initiated an attempt to put into images this internet nebula through the current stakes of segmentation (geographical, virtual), control (legislation, surveillance), deployment (physical, technological), occupation (territorial), use (contents, practices). The project presented is a website gathering a series of dynamic data visualisations, fed by sources from various organisations observing digital practices.