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JPEG Bolton

The internet is everywhere — not the world wide web, but the actual, cluttering, energy-guzzling internet: 4G towers, 5G cells, signal boxes, data centers, cables stretching across the ocean floor. It is an unbroken, planetary-level infrastructure, and like all infrastructure it is deeply political: it has the capacity to determine the flow of information, opportunity and capital. In short, it is a system that distributes power. But access is uneven, and as more public services and opportunities migrate online, inequality becomes locked into our infrastructure.

This asymmetrical power dynamic plays out behind a widespread lack of infrastructural literacy: we talk about the disinvestment of railways or healthcare (rightfully so), but not so much about digital infrastructure — maybe because its apparatus is less familiar to us.

But the internet is hidden in plain sight all around us, and once you learn to see it you begin to see it everywhere. With that comes a new way of reading a city: in terms of connectivity, not consumption.

Network Tourist Information Centre is an ongoing project to spot and map the internet. Here, it consists of a welcome orientation, an animation, and a map.

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