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The Internet

What Does The Internet Look Like? 124

scubacuda writes "What does the Internet have to do with the network of sexual partners? More than you think, according to this Economist article on Albert-Laslo Barabasi's attempt to 'present a general framework for improving the accuracy of Internet models' by treating the net 'as though it were a natural phenomenom.' Dr. Barabasi's findings that the Internet is 'scale free' has a lot of interesting implications: resistance to human failures, as well as vulnerability to malicious attacks. Dr. Barabasi's goal is to create models that are 'statistically indistinguishable from the real Internet. When and if that is achieved, the models should have predictive, as well as descriptive, power.' (BBC and News Factor had stories on his work earlier)"
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What Does The Internet Look Like?

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  • Uh huh (Score:4, Funny)

    by Myriad ( 89793 ) <myriad@NOSpaM.thebsod.com> on Sunday October 06, 2002 @02:14PM (#4398019) Homepage
    What does the Internet have to do with the network of sexual partners?...present a general framework for improving the accuracy of Internet models' by treating the net 'as though it were a natural phenomenom.'

    Uh huh.. I think we all know just what kind of 'Internet models' he's referring to! *wink wink* *nudge nudge*

    I wonder which site, err section of the net, was his favorite?

  • by Raiford ( 599622 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @02:16PM (#4398029) Journal
    "That observation may have implications beyond the virtual world. Research has shown that the network of human sexual partners seems to be scale-free, too. In other words, some people have all the luck, while others have none."

    This person calls himself a scientist. It's not luck. He obviously overlooks the power of a good pick-up line

    • Pickup line from 2025: "Hey baby, let's do it like the internet"
    • indeed (Score:5, Funny)

      by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot AT hackish DOT org> on Sunday October 06, 2002 @02:43PM (#4398163)
      "Hey baby, you know research has shown that the network of human sexual partners seems to be scale-free."
      • "Hey baby, I want to wrap your legs around my head and wear you like a feed-bag"
      • You're suggesting that does does not really matter?


      • my sexual partner better be free of scales!
      • by phorm ( 591458 )
        Actually, sexual activity is a really good way to burn energy/calories/etc. People with a really cranked sex drive can get in shape from their bedroom activities.

        I suppose it's a trend. Sex=possible weight-loss,muscle gain=better looking partner=more sex

        So people with a lot of sexual output probably will be happily surprised when next stepping on the ol' bathroom scale.

        Next time you want to pick somebody up, just tell them:
        Do you know that strong sexual activity is a great way to get in shape? How about you and I do some workouts together - phorm
        • (Conscious of the fact that we're getting more and more offtopic...)

          Most people don't have nearly enough sex to be able to burn any signifigant amount of calories from it. Vigorous sexual activity burns around 6 to 7 calories per minute [uchicago.edu], but most people aren't doing pelvic thrusts continuously for a half hour to an hour.

          And if you are, regularly... dude, don't you have a problem with chafing?
    • Actually since internet is based on a client-server model, all the relevant experiments should be carried out in amsterdams' red light district, where the power of a "good pick-up line" would range from, let's say $50 "pounds" to, let's say again, $1000 ...
    • Yes, it'll work for you, too. You'd be amazed what dressing well, maintaining some personal grooming, a big smile (think someone mailed you a new TiBook smile), and an enthusiastic "hi" will get you.

    • I've talked to a lot of girls about this, and 9 times out of 10 pick up lines work against you. Girls can smell a canned line like a fart in a car. Even if its not a huge cliche, girls know that you've used the same line on 5 girls in the same bar. That makes them not feel special. If a girl doesn't feel special, then it's no time for love, Dr. Jones. The best thing to do is sit down next to a girl who is just about done with her drink. Say hi, tell her your name, and spend the next minute making sure there isn't something obviously horribly wrong with her. Then order a drink for yourself (chug whatever you had and ditch it before walking over...the little extra liquid courage can't hurt) and order another of whatever she's drinking for her. If you feel the need to use a "line", make it original and make it funny. If all else fails, try "I love those shoes". She has to have cool shoes on and she's going to think you're gay for a minute, but girls love it when guys notice thier shoes, become most of them are just staring at their boobs. Once you start talking to her, ask open ended questions and LISTEN to what she says. And always be polite. Ok, that's all I've got. Use this advice at your own risk, my geeky brethren. Good luck.

  • by grumpygrodyguy ( 603716 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @02:17PM (#4398031)
    Hopefully it's starting to look at lot more like this [wired.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward
    What does the Internet have to do with the network of sexual partners?

    If the internet had anything to do with the sexual partners of the slashdot crowd it wouldn't be much of a network, just a collection of standalone PCs.
  • Better links ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by jetlag11235 ( 605532 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @02:20PM (#4398053) Homepage
    The linked article is very weak. His homepage is here:

    The specific article is here:


    Hopefully Notre Dame can handle the traffic.

    -- jetlag --
  • Huh? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Flakeloaf ( 321975 )
    Amd what, exactly, is a phenomenom? If peogle can't be brothered to spell-check their posts, I cam't be botnered to read thek.
  • by Jouster ( 144775 ) <slashdotNO@SPAMangelfaq.com> on Sunday October 06, 2002 @02:21PM (#4398058) Homepage Journal
    Wow, now it makes sense:

    1. Geeks use Internet, which is like sex.
    2. Geeks don't get sex, because they play on the Internet all day.

    3. And I thought it was because I was ugly....

  • by Em Emalb ( 452530 ) <ememalb@ g m a i l . c om> on Sunday October 06, 2002 @02:21PM (#4398060) Homepage Journal
    ["The Internet"]

    See? It's simple. Why the need to do this? The people that get it, get it. Those that don't, probably don't need to, and you sure don't want to try to explain it to them.
  • Sounds like a slick way of talking about 'net pr0n. I mean, come on with all this new-age jargon of how the 'net is a natural thing, "Just like you and me, baby." =]

  • Well, according to this [slashdot.org] article, the internet is becoming all muddy..:(
  • this [thinkgeek.com]
  • by tyrani ( 166937 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @02:26PM (#4398089)
    First, "Where Wizards Stay up Late: The Origins of the Internet" gives you a great history lesson on the internet from pre ARPA to the present.
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0387 08214X/qid=1033932106/sr=1-9/ref=sr_1_9/104-182014 6-7795912?v=glance [amazon.com]

    Next, "Network models in population biology" talks about how networks form in nature.
    http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/item.asp?Catalog=Boo ks&Section=Books&Cat=&Lang=en&Item=978068483267&ms cssid=P4HKP76V6GCX8PR0DCK0FETJ22CQAAC9&WSID=1510D0 DFF8E2AF7C45148DDDD366042124C41706 [indigo.ca]

    It's interesting to read the above articles keeping these books in mind because of the clear picture we can gain from nature.
  • by IndependentVik ( 582582 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @02:27PM (#4398092)
    If the Internet is like a network of sexual partners, then a slashdotting must be like the most unmerciful gangbang ever.
  • I guess he found the Sex Chart [attrition.org] (http://www.attrition.org/hosted/sexchart/sexchart .9.30)

  • by wackybrit ( 321117 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @02:30PM (#4398106) Homepage Journal
    I recorded a bit of it. Enjoy. It's about 200k mp3.

    http://www.boog.co.uk/media/barabasiinterview.mp3 [boog.co.uk]
  • by pieterh ( 196118 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @02:31PM (#4398109) Homepage
    This research is very interesting because it applies to much more than the Internet. Many natural systems have the same type of topology, i.e. self-similar scale-free organisation. There is a whole science of self-organising critical systems (try googling for ZIPF'S LAW).

    What interests me is how such models apply to human networks. The article mentions sexual relationships, and implies that effort in combating AIDS should be targetted at key individuals, not randomly throughout the population. This draws a parallel with the Internet, which is (the article says) resistant to random failure but vulnerable to targetted attacks.

    Consider the implications for other kinds of human networks if this theory is true. E.g. to fight crime, it does not pay to incarcerate minor felons. One has to take out the most important 'hubs', being the bosses.

    This may seem obvious, but I find it ironic that we are using knowledge taken from modeling one of our creations (the Internet) to understand ourselves.

    • My thought on this I can't quite articulate the best I can say is in The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy when the mice were researching humans. They learned about humans by the tests humans ran on them to learn more about themselves. Models have a psychology to them that explain about the individual or culture of the individual designing them. So the parallel between disease spreading in humans and the structure of the net. The question from this is; is the internet mimicking human social organisations because it is a human social organisation?

      There will always be parallels in the two. The model is focussing on threat based responses but what about growth and discovery or self control. In human social organisation the biggest combat of std's was change of behaviour, so in another human social organisation the internet the combat against computer viruses is change of behaviour.

      Sex education to stop stds
      Computer education to stop computer viruses

      Face it focusing on key routers will probably stop the current viral model but what will the next viral payload do or look like and how will it take this into account.

    • by Saeger ( 456549 )
      E.g. to fight crime, it does not pay to incarcerate minor felons. One has to take out the most important 'hubs', being the bosses.

      Sure, it makes sense to go after the higher-ups in a hierarchy, but there isn't much point in doing that when those hubs get replaced in notime flat.

      Take a drug kingpin down and there'll be more to take his place very soon after... just as there's millions of potential gnutella supernodes (superhubs) to replace the ones that dropoff (no, I'm not comparing drug dealers to p2p).


    • . . . but I find it ironic that we are using knowledge taken from modeling one of our creations (the Internet) to understand ourselves.

      Ironic? Isn't rather the most natural thing in the world? A terrific and largely unexamined consequence of the technical revolutions of the last century is the distortion and exaggeration of the commonly accepted, but false, dichotomy between synthetic and natural systems. The concept is a legacy of Aristotelian categories and its undertow makes itself felt throughout Western philosophy.

      What are we if not natural?
  • Studies using random graphs had shown that changing the software on more and more machines had a cumulative effect. That is not true in a scale-free setting. There, most software changes make no difference to the rate at which a virus spreads (although they obviously protect the machines in question). However, treating a relatively small number of hubs in a scale-free system can stamp viruses out completely.

    What phenomena did this columnist exactly try to explain? I quess there must be some sense in this. But it does not ehmm.. really open to me. Does he want to stay that the spreading of viruses could be stopped by fixing the aortas (of the net)... or something else.

  • Simple (Score:3, Funny)

    by Snork Asaurus ( 595692 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @02:35PM (#4398128) Journal
    What does the Internet have to do with the network of sexual partners?

    Both are good ways to spread a virus.

    • Just don't use the whore of mail clients and you'll be okay.
    • Score:1, Redundant

      Yeah, yeah, I RTFA after I posted that. But on the plus side, I got it right. I should have put a bit more BS around my reply and then I could be published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and get lots of pretty research money.

  • It's original, let's apply Freud to the Internet and what do you get?
  • Research has shown that the network of human sexual partners seems to be scale-free, too. In other words, some people have all the luck, while others have none.

    ...is probably not too insightful. The really big numbers (in terms of sex partners) are put up by prostitutes, who may not feel lucky to be doing what they're doing.

  • by Jhan ( 542783 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @02:42PM (#4398158) Homepage

    So, could anyone give me a few examples of the people who are the backbones of sex? I'd sure like to bone them right back, since they obviously handle a large percentage of all sex in the world.

    Even if they won't be boned by me, maybe they could carry my requests to distant parts of the world to someone who might?

  • Fallacy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tr0tsky ( 207672 )
    If he's serious, it's a pretty major logical blunder. Properties shared by two things (e.g., that the internet and some metaphor/model for the internet) do *NOT* imply the identity of those things, and certainly shouldn't be used as a justification for taking some particular action toward one thing or the other.

    This is the same logic employed by tyrants and dictators (and bad scientists).
    • The concept of universality has been an important concept in statistical physics for at least a few decades now.

      And yes, scale-free networks are also a hot topic in statistical physics today. The point is, scale-free networks are characterized by common properties, just as universality classes are. So if you come to the conclusion that both the internet and human sexual networks are both scale-free, then e.g. attacks on certain types of nodes will have the same kind of effect.

      I see no fallacy here.
    • Blockquoth the poster:

      Properties shared by two things (e.g., that the internet and some metaphor/model for the internet) do *NOT* imply the identity of those things,

      While you have to be aware, always, of the limits of your model, and while you must never lose sight of the fact that it is only a model(*), it's ridiculous to say that you can never derive prescriptive action from studying a model. It's done every day. Recent example: Our weather models sayd Hurrican Iggy is going to have a landfall at such-and-such a time and near this point. People living near the point get ready, by battening down or evacuating or whatever. Or are you saying you'd ignore the evacuation order because it's "only a model" of how the atmosphere reacts?
      (*) Insert obligatory "Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail" line here.
  • Weird... I thought somebody would have done it by now... I've had sex with two people on it, yet my name isn't there. That's ok by me. :)
  • by __past__ ( 542467 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @03:06PM (#4398254)
    Well, it's mostly white with green with black text, also some parts of it have a grey background. Around it is a black border which on top contains a light-blue ad from Microsoft Small Business Solutions. Oh, and if you've been nice, it contains that neat moderation boxes.
  • Until 1999, the standard way of modelling the Internet was to use randomly generated graphs, in which routers were represented by points and the links between them by lines. But it turns out that such random graphs are a poor approximation because they miss two important features. The first is that links in the net are "preferentially attached": a router that has many links to it is likely to attract still more links; one that does not, will not. The second is that the Internet has more clusters of connected points than random graphs do. These two properties give the Internet a topology that is scale-free--in other words, small bits of it, when suitably magnified, resemble the whole.

    You know that Net traffic doubles every three months [redherring.com], so you're confident that this will work, for all Half the world's poulation still hasn't made a phone call [unrisd.org]?
    • by pangloss ( 25315 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @04:26PM (#4398630) Journal
      Half the world's poulation still hasn't made a phone call
      The current issue of Wired refutes [wired.com] this statistic.
      • Both of those links were to bogus factoids. IP traffic doubling every tree months was part of MCI/WorldCom's Irrational ExEbbersance Program, by which we are all currently Bernied, don't you know?

      • The current issue of Wired refutes [wired.com] this statistic.

        It does refute it, it just turns around it, without a single direct computation. And not even accouting the replacement of landlines by mobile phones, or the office lines, used by the same persons who already have a phone at home.

        2,300% is huge, except when you start with nearly 0.

        And the "if we assume original guess of half was right in 1994 (a big if)" takes 1/2 as the starting point, although it might have been higher, like "3/5 of the world hasn't made a call"... Just that "half" is easier to say.
  • by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @03:53PM (#4398490)
    "from the and-what-does-it-taste-like dept."

    It tastes like grape-aid.
  • The following speaks best to what it is: "When and if that is achieved, the models should have predictive, as well as descriptive, power."
    When and if are very big words in forecasting ;)
  • by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Sunday October 06, 2002 @06:34PM (#4399154) Homepage Journal

    I could summarize the net in one sentence:

    "You are in a maze of twisty tunnels, all alike"

    There, the internet.

  • Peacock Maps [peacockmaps.com] makes some good maps such as this one []. I first found out about it at ThinkGeek [thinkgeek.com] and later bought two for one at home and ine my dorm. Too bad they don't have a 2002 poster yet.
  • by Cutriss ( 262920 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @09:11PM (#4399883) Homepage
    So...erm...how many of these hosts have their interfaces set to "Promiscuous"?
  • What does the internet look like?

    "High-Speed Data Transfer Over ... Mud"
  • "And in that, Slick Henry, I'll see the shape."

    Suffering whiplash from seeing a Gibson story become a real-live Slashdot post.
  • Linked: the new science of networks is the full length version of this article, and presents some interesting if somewhat superficial coverage of scale-free networks in computers, nature, and society. I found it to be a worthwhile read.

    amazon product page [amazon.com]
  • Look at SeattleWireless' HowDoesThisWikiLookLike [seattlewireless.net] there are few pages with a lot of references to or from other pages, and many pages with few references. It seems to follow a 'power law' too(~ 'scale free').

    So, the 'inside' of the web seems to follow the same rules. It is particulary interresting with wikis because of the unplanned, distributed growth (like the Internet).

    As the belgian provider, where the pictures are, seems to be down. You can also see the pictures in ReseauCitoyen.be's TopologieDuWiki [reseaucitoyen.be]

    I thing it would be a good idea to have a discussion on /. on the Wiki phenomenon (sites everybody can contribute to, like WikiPedia.com [wikipedia.com] ( more than 95,000 pages! [wikipedia.org]).

    I know of only one book on the subject : "The Wiki Way: Collaboration and Sharing on the Internet [amazon.com]" by Bo Leuf, Ward Cunningham (of c2.com [c2.com], creator of the Wiki concept).

    If you search Google for 'RecentChanges' (a good marker for wikis (?)), you get a lot of them, more and more (A survey by country domain sept->oct 2002 [reseaucitoyen.be])

    There are some scientific papers at GaTech.edu [gatech.edu]
  • Similar research has been done on the structure of instant messaging networks. The possible applications to slowing virulent IM worms was also discussed.

  • When you are about to do an objective and scientific piece of investigation
    of a topic, it is well to gave the answer firmly in hand, so that you can
    proceed forthrightly, without being deflected or swayed, directly to the goal.
    -- Amrom Katz

    - this post brought to you by the Automated Last Post Generator...

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