The World Wide Web has been around long enough now that we take the first two "w's" in "www" for granted. And now with the advent of the "cloud computing" metaphor, it's even easier to imagine that our Internet data pings around the planet by some sort of ineffable magic. But it turns out that the World Wide Web really is more like a series of tubes than anything else—at least when it comes to the problem of getting data packets across oceans. The Submarine Cable Map makes these undersea connections clear, complete with color-coded interactive visuals.
The map was created by Telegeography using data drawn from the Global Bandwidth Research Service. At a glance, it looks something like those brainbow images of human neurons, except this one spans the entire planet. Click on any one of the axon-like undersea cables, and the map highlights it while displaying interesting factoids about its construction. Some of the cables even have cool-sounding codenames: Apollo, for example, stretches 13,000 km to connect homely Manasquan, New Jersey to glamorous-sounding Lannion, France.
The map is technically a schematic diagram visualizing the cable connections for optimal readability—the lines don't represent the cables' actual physical locations. But that won't stop cartography dorks from having hours of fun diving deep into the minutiae of global networking. And casual observers can glean interesting cocktail-party nuggets, too. Did you know Antarctica is the only continent without a hard line web connection? Or that the northernmost node of the World Wide Web sits at Svalbard, Norway? OK fine, maybe you attend different cocktail parties than I do, but the Submarine Cable Map is still a great piece of design if only for illuminating the physical connections that you, dear reader, take for granted every time you open your web browser.