Border Engineering training Association


The inner workings of the internet



Have you ever wondered what happens when you connect your PC to the outside world (The Internet). How data is transmitted from your PC to other PCs across communication lines world wide and back to your PC.

To-day we simply plug our modem/router into a phone jack, configure some software, connect to our Internet Service Provider (ISP) and then (usually) data flows back and forth. The basic protocols of the Internet mean that the nature of data communications remains completely invisible to us.

However, if you wanted to explain this invisible, high-speed digital communications, it would be useful to be able to visualize data packets, network links, routers and the like.

Of course data packets do not have a physical form, so one has to invent an imaginary form for them. Creating this imaginary, visual vocabulary to explain the inner workings of the Internet was the challenge tackled in the 1999 short film, Warriors of the Net.

The artist and animator of the movie, Gunilla Elam, drew on a range of physical analogies to show the typical journey of Internet data packets in a tangible, accessible fashion for lay audiences. She imagined the Internet as a mechanical world with data packets being hulking, rusty steel trucks moving on conveyor belts.