In 2013, an anonymous hacker mapped the Internet through illegal means, and in the process exposed rampant security problems. The project, called Internet Census 2012, used 420,000 networked devices, dubbed the Carna Botnet, to ping IP addresses across the globe in 2012. Every one of the devices was either entirely unsecured with no password protection, or used the standard password "root" that comes with many off-the-shelf routers (users are supposed to change the password, but rarely do). The hacker released all of the collected data to the public domain in a sort of research paper. The animation above is a map based on that data that shows 24-hours of Internet use.  CARNA BOTNET


WHEN YOU HEAR the word “Internet,” what do you picture in your mind? Is it a series of pipes, or a three-dimensional spacescape, or maybe a browser on your phone’s screen? Visualizing the Internet is tough, perhaps because it’s this weird combination of physical and conceptual things. But that’s also what makes it an appealing endeavor.

There is of course a physical architecture of cables, wires and switches that exists, but these material things are more like a backbone or a substrate that enables the Internet to exist. And while these tangible aspects of the Internet are hard enough to visualize, the conceptual part is a mind bender. People have assigned all sorts of physical descriptors to it, attempts to give it a shape. They call it the inter-tubes or the inter-webs, the information superhighway, or the cloud.

Perhaps the most ubiquitous nickname is also the least concrete: cyberspace. But even this amorphous moniker implies a geography, or at least a spatial aspect. And where there is a spatial aspect of any sort, even imagined, there will be maps.

But how do you map the Internet? This is an intriguing problem that has drawn many different attempts from cartographers, computer scientists, visual artists, data wranglers and information scientists. We’ve collected some of our favorite maps of the Internet in the gallery above, from the adorably schematic 1977 map of the Internet’s larval stage, known as ARPANET, to geographical maps of the deep-sea cables that transfer the information, to sophisticated computer-generated topologic maps of the connections that make up cyberspace.

Some of these visualizations focus on websites, some on users, some on connections and some on concepts. Many use proximity to represent some sort of relatedness, just as Waldo Tobler taught cartographers. For some, closeness represents similarity, for others it indicates connectedness. Others have mapped the Internet onto an existing architecture, like the Tokyo Metro.

The results are varied and beautiful and will give you lots of visuals to fill your head when you hear the word Internet in the future.

The Northern Lights flare up over Grimersta Lodge on the west coast of the Isle of Lewis in the early hours of March 18, 2015.  SANDIE MACIVER/DEMOTIX/CORBIS

The aurora australis on March 17-18 this year, as captured by the Suomi-NPP satellite.  CURTIS SEAMAN (CIRA/COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY)

On Care for Our Common Home


POPE FRANCIS ALREADY has a reputation for barnstorming. His positions on poverty, on gay priests, and liberation theology would have been shocking enough on their own, but in contrast to the more conservative positions of previous popes, they were downright lefty.

Sure, Francis has his more traditional moments. Abortion and assisted suicide are still no-go for the leader of the world’s Catholics. But Francis has been explicit about links between capitalism, materialism, and threats to the world’s poor. There’s a reason he named himself after St. Francis of Assisi—famously poor, famously eco-conscious—after all.

Now the Pope is taking on science. Specifically, in a new encyclical—that’s a letter laying out official Catholic doctrine—Francis describes Earth’s problem with an increasingly messed-up climate, why that’s the purview of religion, and who will suffer the most if people don’t do anything about it. The encyclical, “On Care for Our Common Home,” makes explicit the connection between climate change and oppression of the poorest and most vulnerable. It’s well-argued, clear, at times quite moving…and 42,000 words long. So here’s the good-parts version.

It is no longer enough to speak only of the integrity of ecosystems. We have to dare to speak of the integrity of human life, of the need to promote and unify all the great values. Once we lose our humility, and become enthralled with the possibility of limitless mastery over everything, we inevitably end up harming society and the environment.


If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.

Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.

The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life. A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.


Even as the quality of available water is constantly diminishing, in some places there is a growing tendency, despite its scarcity, to privatize this resource, turning it into a commodity subject to the laws of the market. Yet access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights. Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity.

Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost for ever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity. Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right.


We must be grateful for the praiseworthy efforts being made by scientists and engineers dedicated to finding solutions to man-made problems. But a sober look at our world shows that the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey, even as technological advances and consumer goods continue to abound limitlessly. We seem to think that we can substitute an irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have created ourselves.

Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature.

This lack of physical contact and encounter, encouraged at times by the disintegration of our cities, can lead to a numbing of conscience and to tendentious analyses which neglect parts of reality….We have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.


Humanity has entered a new era in which our technical prowess has brought us to a crossroads. We are the beneficiaries of two centuries of enormous waves of change: steam engines, railways, the telegraph, electricity, automobiles, aeroplanes, chemical industries, modern medicine, information technology and, more recently, the digital revolution, robotics, biotechnologies and nanotechnologies. It is right to rejoice in these advances and to be excited by the immense possibilities which they continue to open up before us, for “science and technology are wonderful products of God-given human creativity.”


Our freedom fades when it is handed over to the blind forces of the unconscious, of immediate needs, of self-interest, and of violence. In this sense, we stand naked and exposed in the face of our ever-increasing power, lacking the wherewithal to control it. We have certain superficial mechanisms, but we cannot claim to have a sound ethics, a culture and spirituality genuinely capable of setting limits and teaching clear-minded self-restraint.


A constant flood of new consumer goods can baffle the heart and prevent us from cherishing each thing and each moment. To be serenely present to each reality, however small it may be, opens us to much greater horizons of understanding and personal fulfillment.

The richer are getting richer by screwing the world’s poor and the environment.
The foreign debt of poor countries has become a way of controlling them, yet this is not the case where ecological debt is concerned. In different ways, developing countries, where the most important reserves of the biosphere are found, continue to fuel the development of richer countries at the cost of their own present and future.


We are not God. The earth was here before us and it has been given to us. This allows us to respond to the charge that Judaeo-Christian thinking, on the basis of the Genesis account which grants man “dominion” over the earth (cf. Gen 1:28), has encouraged the unbridled exploitation of nature by painting him as domineering and destructive by nature. This is not a correct interpretation of the Bible as understood by the Church.

When nature is viewed solely as a source of profit and gain, this has serious consequences for society. This vision of “might is right” has engendered immense inequality, injustice and acts of violence against the majority of humanity, since resources end up in the hands of the first comer or the most powerful: the winner takes all.

The natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone. If we make something our own, it is only to administer it for the good of all. If we do not, we burden our consciences with the weight of having denied the existence of others.

Mistreatment of the environment is as bad as a lot of really bad stuff, like child abuse and stem cells.
The culture of relativism is the same disorder which drives one person to take advantage of another, to treat others as mere objects, imposing forced labour on them or enslaving them to pay their debts. The same kind of thinking leads to the sexual exploitation of children and abandonment of the elderly who no longer serve our interests. It is also the mindset of those who say: Let us allow the invisible forces of the market to regulate the economy, and consider their impact on society and nature as collateral damage.


There is a tendency to justify transgressing all boundaries when experimentation is carried out on living human embryos. We forget that the inalienable worth of a human being transcends his or her degree of development.


Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology. Also, valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different. In this way we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment. It is not a healthy attitude which would seek “to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it”.


There are certain environmental issues where it is not easy to achieve a broad consensus. Here I would state once more that the Church does not presume to settle scientific questions or to replace politics. But I am concerned to encourage an honest and open debate so that particular interests or ideologies will not prejudice the common good.

Running Fence

"Jeanne-Claude and I borrow space and create a gentle disturbance in it for just a few days. When they appear for a few days, they carry this tremendous freedom of irresponsibility." ~ Christo

The Floating Piers

The Floating Piers (Project for Lake Iseo, Italy)
Collage 2014
17 x 22" (43.2 x 55.9 cm)
Pencil, wax crayon, enamel paint, photograph by Wolfgang Volz, map, fabric sample and tape
Photo: André Grossmann
© 2014 Christo