A Google Earth for the web: an interactive map of the internet

A blogger called Ruslan Enikeev created an interactive map of the internet: a Google Earth for websites, let’s say. It indexed over 350 thousand websites from 196 countries and all domain zones. It gives an idea of how vast the internet is, and also how dominant sites like Google, Facebook and (still) Yahoo are. Also noteworthy: Google.com looks like the biggest site in the world, but on top of that, sites like Google.fr and Google.de are the biggest sites for individual countries too.

Enikeev used Alexa to make a graphical representation of how big websites are, and how closely they are linked. He also gave each country a specific color – the blueish color is for the US.  Information about more than 2 million links between the websites has joined some of them together into clusters. The largest clusters are formed by national websites, i.e. sites belonging to one country.

All websites relative to a certain country carry the same color. For instance, the red zone at the top corresponds to Russian segment of the net, the yellow one on the left stands for the Chinese segment, the purple one on the right is Japanese, the large light-blue central one is the American segment, etc.

Here you can see the biggest countries on the web:

The clusters are “semantically charged”, which means that if people surf from one site to the other, those sites will be closer to each other on the map. This, says Enikeev, is also why you can see “a vast porno cluster” between Brazil and Japan:

Users’ switching between websites forms links, and the stronger the link, the closer the websites tend to arrange themselves to each other.

The links between the sites are based on information from 2011, but the size of the dots is measured using actual statistics from Alexa, says Enikeev. For those of you who like math, there’s an algorithm involved that you can study here:

Anyway, the real algorithm of plotting The Internet map is quite far from the analogies given above. For those interested, the closest description of the mathematical model can be found in the research [1], and the engineering solution looks very similar to what has been described in [2]. Google Maps engine has been used as the platform for displaying.

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About the author

Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).