In our previous article on the special generator sets we are exporting to New Zealand for telecommunications, we included the TeleGeography global and interactive map showing the submarine fibre optic cables which enable us to access data stored anywhere in the world. In this article we delve deeper into the subject, step by step.*
* Click on any of the images to access the cited source
What Is the Physical Structure of the Internet?
Sometimes when we talk about the Internet, we refer to it as if it were something ethereal; so virtual that it seems it does not physically exist. However, the Internet has its corporeality, a physical structure. The company Peer 1 hosting has developed an application which allows us to visualise the network in 3D, to see how the autonomous systems are related to one another and how these components interact to connect the world. The Map of the Internet app is attractive in itself, but it also has an educational purpose: to be able to appreciate how the Internet has evolved from 1994 to the present day. For example, it shows the effects of the appearance of Facebook and Google. We have tried the application on a mobile phone and it is surprising: you can pinpoint your current location on the map, search for the whereabouts and domains of the most famous companies, generate the route map to nodes, obtain a visualisation/projection of the Internet configuration in 2020 (thanks to the algorithms the application uses based on current data), learn about key events in the history of the Internet, etc. The application is free and you can download it from the App Store or Google Play. A fantastic tool for a more complete understanding of how the separate networks which make up the World Wide Web work.
Our Activity on the Internet
Before we continue, here is a video in which the continuous activity of our IP addresses is clearly visualised. The dynamic and spectacular image shows us the map of the world as if it were smattered with millions of sparklers.
Voronoi Diagram Visualisation of the Traffic on the Most Popular Networks
This tool provides a dynamic snapshot which allows us to see how the traffic on the most popular websites evolves from month to month and how it increases or decreases in comparison with the others. The websites are divided into sectors and each website (Amazon, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, eBay, etc.) appears as a coloured region on the map. The diagrams change according to their monthly percentages of traffic.
This is the visualisation of the division of traffic for June 2013.
What Is Unique About the Map of the Internet?
Like any other map, it is an illustrative tool which shows the relative position of objects. It is different from real maps, such as that of the Earth, or from virtual maps, such as that of Middle-earth, in that the objects shown are not aligned on a surface. Mathematically, The Internet Map is a two-dimensional depiction of links between websites. Each website is represented by a circle and its size is determined by the amount of traffic it receives. The connections users make from one page to another form links and these determine the relationship and proximity between the circles.
The Interesting Data Collection Maps Generated by Akamai
The Akamai platform, which delivers between 15 and 30% of the world’s Web traffic, compiles data and creates maps which help us to understand what is happening on the Internet and our behaviour. Until recently, this information was only available to Akamai clients but they have now made it public. The data available includes the number of attacks or viruses on the Web, the speed at which data travels between large cities, etc.
In the “Traffic” option on Visualising the Internet (Web), we see the levels of traffic on Akamai servers in data centres around the world. The data includes connection requests per second in real time and the total number of pages visited per minute. You can consult this data for any geographical point.
In the image above, taken from the Akamai website, we see the data on malicious attacks this month.
The above image shows the regions with most attacks, the cities with the slowest connections (latency) and the geographical areas with the highest traffic density.
The image below shows a map with the Internet usage by industry.
The University of Oxford is Mapping the Internet
The Information Geographies project team at the Oxford Internet Institute are mapping the World Wide Web. In the image below, you can see an abstract depiction of the global submarine fibre optic cable network, similar to a map of the London Underground. It is also worth taking a look at the Geographic Knowledge map by Freebase (pictured below), the database for the management of knowledge with a Creative Commons licence purchased by Google in 2010.