Krisetya and Starosielski: Undersea Cables as Narrative Landscape

Last week’s trip to DataGryd with Andrew Blum reaffirmed for me how very small we are in the networks we’ve built to connect each other and control our environments.  I was interested in learning more about Markus Krisetya and his work after reading about his cartographic designs in the chapters we read from Blum’s Tubes.  Krisetya has a Tumblr page with some of his work, including a Submarine Cable Map from 2014:

An updated one from 2016 from TeleGeography can be found here:

The updated map is a little more interactive – you can scroll left and right, zoom in and out to read short reports on changes to the cable network since the map’s previous publication.  I enjoyed Blum’s description of Krisetya’s cartographic work as a form of storytelling (“I loved drawing stories on paper, and referencing distance in that strange manner,” [Krisetya] told me) (Blum 15).

I focus on TeleGeography’s maps because they provide us with physical representations of our media infrastructures, something I’ve been searching for as I collect and study materials for my final paper on colonial infrastructures in the Philippines.  In Nicole Starosielski’s The Undersea Network, I noticed that the Philippines only features as a sort of stepping stone in the undersea cable networks despite the existence of miles of telegraph networks connecting islands to each other and across the Pacific in the early 1900s.  There has to be a story behind this as well.  I recently found a map from 1902 online that could be useful provided by Brown University Library’s Digital Production Services illustrating these telegraph cables from that time published in National Geographic Magazine:

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