When you type a URL (such as www.lowtechmagazine.com) into your browser, you connect through the internet to a server somewhere in the world that is hosting that particular website. The server “serves” the website to you.

I learned the following method of tracing network connections and more about the energy consumption of the Internet from Julian Oliver during his Network Energetics workshop in 2021.

Tracing Connections
You can find out where in the world a website is hosted by running a “traceroute”. Essentially you send a little packet of data to the server hosting that particular website. As it traverses the internet locally or globally the traceroute reveals the IP8 address of every node (connector) that it goes through to connect to the server at the end. Effectively showing you the path by which you are connecting to that website.

You can then take the IP address any of those nodes and using IP Geolocation, find out where in the world each node is located.

Above is a traceroute run from my computer in Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa (node 1) to the Local Making Server in Te Awa Kairangi, Aotearoa (node 9). Each number (1,2,3,4…) indicates a node, or connector through which I connect to the server at the end (node 9). All of these IP addresses are based in Aotearoa, New Zealand, meaning that when I viewed localmaking.org the internet traffic stayed in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

You can run a traceroute by following the instructions here (covers Windows, Linux and Mac)

From there you can take the IP address of each node and enter them to this site to find where in the world each node is located. The last node in the traceroute is the server.

Note: This is a good way of finding out which country/city/region a node or server is located in, but not exactly where in that city or region the server is located.

This traceroute is run from my computer in Tāmaki Makaurau, New Zealand to the server hosting www.ecomatters.org.nz. The traffic stays in New Zealand until node 7 when I connect to New South Wales, Australia, node 8 is in Australia and node 9 I connect to the server hosting www.ecomatters.org.nz which is located in San Francisco, USA.

This traceroute goes from me In New Zealand to Palo Alto, California to San José, California to Miami, Florida to Frankfurt to Zurich.