One day, technology journalist Andrew Blum's internet went down. "There's your problem," his cable guy said, "a squirrel is chewing on your internet." Following this sabotage, Blum wanted to find out if the internet was a place he could actually visit — so he went searching for it over the next two years. As he describes in a TED talk, Blum says that "if there is a world in the screen, and the physical world around me, I couldn't ever get them together in the same place." But, he says, "there is a real-world of the internet out there."

"There is a real-world of the internet out there."

Blum visited internet hubs and "data centers that use as much power as the cities in which they sit" to understand the physical space of the internet. He says the internet's connections are "unequivocally physical" and "surprisingly intimate" — despite a seemingly endless web of relations, only a few gatekeepers actually create those connections in the real-world. "It seems to me that we talk a lot about the cloud," Blum says, "but every time we put something to the cloud, we give up some responsibility for it. We are less connected to it, we let other people worry about it. And that doesn't seem right." Be sure to catch Blum's full talk below to learn more about the real people and the physical connections that enable our virtual lives.