Browsers, Search Engines, and Surveillance

Last week, we introduced some major themes

  • Non-linear vs. linear ("the Stream")
  • Native Apps vs. the World Wide Web
    • Hyperlinks as windows/bridges
    • Social media as fences/walls ("blind")

This week, we'll be extending those themes as we talk about

  • How the Internet Works
  • The Anatomy of a Browser
  • Search Engines
  • AdBlockers, Advertising, Tracking
  • Social Media, Free Speech
  • Dark Web

Chapter 1

How the Internet works

Undersea cables transport nearly 100% of transoceanic data traffic

One of Google's

Undersea Cables

  • Crosses 5,592 miles of the Pacific from America's West Coast to Japan
  • Cost of $300 million
  • 10 million times faster than your cable modem

Almost all of it goes through only 30 exchanges


Internet exchange points (IXPs) are physical infrastructure through which Internet service providers (ISPs) and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) exchange Internet traffic between their networks

Photograph by Taryn Simon

Transatlantic Sub-Marine Cables Reaching Land, VSNL International, Avon, New Jersey These VSNL sub-marine telecommunications cables extend 8,037.4 miles across the Atlantic Ocean. Capable of transmitting over 60 million simultaneous voice conversations, these underwater fiber-optic cables stretch from Saunton Sands in the United Kingdom to the coast of New Jersey. The cables run below ground and emerge directly into the VSNL International headquarters, where signals are amplified and split into distinctive wavelengths enabling transatlantic phone calls and internet transmissions.





Live Demo Time!

  • Requests/Responses you can see in your web console



Brief Reading

Chapter 2

The anatomy of a browser

Web Designs should never override built-in browser functionality

  • Scrolling
  • Back/Forward Buttons

Accessing Developer tools

  • Two-finger click, Inspect/Inspect Element (all four)
  • option + command + i (Chrome, Firefox, and Safari)
  • Chrome
    • View > Developer > Developer Tools
  • Firefox
    • Tools > Web Developer > Toggle Tools
  • Safari*
    • Develop > Show Web Inspector
  • IE*
    • Gear icon > F12 Developer Tools


*Not out of the box

Preferences > Advanced

IE* *Weird Place

Gear icon > F12 Developer Tools

Download Virtual Machines

Chapter 3

Search Engines

Search Engines

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine

Chapter 4

AdBlockers, Advertising, Tracking

Ublock Origin

Preferences > Extension

Fun? Activity

Chapter 5

Social Media, Free Speech

Activity: In small groups, look at the following document:


Answer/Speculate Upon the following questions:

  1. For whom and why was the document created?
  2. Who at the company made the decisions about how it was designed and why was it designed that way?
  3. Who are @deray,  @Nettaaaaaaaa, etc. and why were they portrayed that way?  Were they portrayed accurately?
  4. Should the document have been created?


What other questions do you have about the document?


What other questions does this bring up surrounding the Zerofox document?


About social media, protest, free speech, and privacy?

Chapter 6

Dark Web


Documentary film directed by Laura Poitras, concerning Edward Snowden and the NSA spying scandal.

Browsers, Search Engines, and Survelliance

By brigittewarner

Browsers, Search Engines, and Survelliance

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