Internet Geographic Distribution

In communications, as in transportation, it is more economical for many users to share a common resource rather than each to build his own system — particularly when supplying intermittent or occasional service. This intermittency of service is highly characteristic of digital communication requirements. Therefore, we would like to consider the interconnection, one day, of many all-digital links to provide a resource optimized for the handling of data for many potential intermittent users — a new common-user system.

Paul Baran, On Distributed Communications, Volume I, 1964.

The geographic distribution of the Internet continues to spread, around the world and even beyond.

A key attribute of the Internet is that once you have connected to any part of it, you can communicate with all of it. All of the Internet’s technologies — web, newsgroups, email, mailing lists, IRC, MUD’s — enable geographically distributed groups of people to communicate who otherwise couldn’t do so. Largely because the basic architecture of the Internet is open — fundamentally designed to connect new networks — this powerful communication medium has spread rapidly to interconnect our world and turned it into a true multi-way electronic global village.

The rapid geographic distribution of the Internet is having the same effect on our civilization as previous inventions that have dramatically expanded the geographic boundaries of our communication abilities, each making the world just a bit smaller, such as the following:

Printing presses
Amateur radios
Citizen band radio

The Internet is the latest and most powerful such invention, with a current distribution to every corner of this planet, and already inevitably moving into space.