The materiality of the Internet: An expedition to locate the bones of cyberspace in Perth

Dr Shaphan Cox1

1Curtin University, Bentley, Australia


Accessing and sharing data through smart devices, whenever and wherever, is a key feature of our mobile and digital lives. This connectivity is redefining how place and space is produced. What is not well captured in social imaginaries of a mobile and interconnected world is the mundane infrastructure and equipment that enables and supports such practices. The materiality of the Internet, or what has been described by others as the ‘bones of cyberspace’, challenge the assumed ubiquity of the Internet and reinforce that our networked lives are always located in place. This raises important questions for geography. How do we see the Internet? What geographies do we enact when we log onto a network? How would our perceptions of a mobile world shift if suddenly all of the Internet infrastructure among us became transparent? In this paper I track answers to such questions by exploring emergent literature on the geography of the Internet and through an expedition of Perth to map some of this materiality. I contend that dominant imaginaries that assume the Internet as everywhere and nowhere reflect deeper problems for how space is conceptualised.


Shaphan Cox is a Human Geographer in the School of Design and Built Environment at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia. He coordinates the Geography program at Curtin and Open Universities. Shaphan’s research explores the politics of space and place.

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