Ride the Byte

"Ride the Byte" (1999) is an interactive work by ART+COM which shows the complex structure of the Internet.

Ride the Byte

"Ride the Byte"

Ride the Byte offers an impression of the complex structure of the Internet by visualising the trajectory of individual data packages (bytes) sent from the exhibition site to another location on the globe. On an LCD display, visitors choose one of a number of pre-defined Internet pages. A data package is sent to that site and the route the data take is graphically depicted as a trace on a large-scale projection of the Earth. At the end of the data's trip through the Net the chosen Internet page is shown. As these trace routes accumulate in the course of the day, the pattern of the net is woven onto the surface of the planet

 

Longer description

The Internet is an infrastructure of networked computers for the transmission of digital data. The lines and cables that connect these computers are not evenly distributed over the whole Earth, and the way in which the data travel through them is neither instantaneous, nor do the packages always take the shortest routes.

Ride the Byte offers an impression of the complex structure of the Internet by visualising the trajectory of individual data packages (bytes) sent from the exhibition site to another location on the globe. Looking down from a platform, visitors can see a projection of the Earth. On an LCD display, the visitor chooses one of a number of pre-defined Internet pages. A data package is sent to that Internet site and the route the data take is graphically depicted as a trace route, as a clearly visible track on the large-scale image of the Earth. The route is marked by the geographical locations and IP addresses, the unique addresses of each computer in the Internet, of the servers through which the data are transferred. At the end of the data's trip through the Net the chosen Internet page is shown. As these trace routes accumulate in the course of the day, the pattern of the net is woven onto the surface of the planet.

The transmission time of data on the Internet is strongly dependent on the speed allowed by the nodes and cables, and by the amount of data traffic; as there is always a limit of the available bandwidth, high data traffic can effect a slow-down, while the temporary failure or congestion of certain nodes can necessitate the re-routing of data. Ride the Byte visualises the ever-changing spatio-temporal structure of the Internet, indicating both its massive size and its technical idiosyncracies.

Document Actions
Document Actions
Personal tools
Log in