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The Internet

Atlas of Cyberspaces 25

davepeck writes "The Atlas Of Cyberspaces is an interesting site containing a number of beautiful Internet and WWW visualizations, as well as links to the projects that generated them. " We've mentioned similiar pages in the past, but this one interests me because it does technical visualizations (like xtraceroute and similiar apps) as well as artistic ones (where it shows things like Tron and The Matrix).
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Atlas of Cyberspaces

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    is there anyone else in the world who thinks that these visualizations aren't accurate? i view the world wide web as a collection of books in stacks, with hyperlinks simply being like inline annotated bibliographies.

    tron: visualized the connective part of the internet... the infrastructure. wires and cables and machines. programs were "black boxes" pictured as our heroes and tanks and whatnot. they were contained within cells (protected areas of memory?) on machines that managed the travel of these programs on the infrastructure. this sounds more like an os kernel than the internet.

    the matrix: visualized a virtual reality. had very little to do with intranetworking except that a bunch of human brains were all connected to a very fast wan.

    i still believe that if visualizing the internet is a goal, neal stephenson's "snow crash" book is the best. actual online world, different areas linked around, searching through the garbage to find a worthwhile bit of info, etc. just like the old school bookstacks in a library.

  • This is one of the most fascinating sites I have seen in a long long time!

    I, too, find it difficult to really grasp the immensity of this thing we call the internet. For me, graphical representation is the clearest form of instruction, and many of these images present a view of the 'net that I've been longing to see for years now. The historical footnotes and graphics are of particular interest, too, since I like to dabble in that subject.
  • Slashdotted ATT

    Do we really need people to point out that the link is /.'ed? I mean, that's usually pretty obvious, no?

    Now what IS useful is when people say, "It's /.'ed.. so here's a mirror."
  • Er.. I wasn't really arguing about that.

    My main point is that people don't need to post comments announcing that a site is slashdotted. It's obvious and redundant.
  • Server is toast, anyone have a mirror?
  • Technical people have the capacity to generate different types of art; you can't see any painter coming up with the Mendelbrot set, can you? Any branch of mathematics has its own aesthetic, and some of these can be stunning. Take elliptic curves, for example.
    Techies may have problems generating something like Constable's The Haywain, but I doubt Constable could come up with something as cool as the formula e^i*pi=-1, which to me is artistic as pretty much anything.
  • Looking at some of the Maps on the site, one can clearly see that Virgina has very little claim as the 'Capitol of the Internet.' Siteing an ISP-Saturated California, I hereby claim The Golden State the Capitol of the Internet. Birthplace of BSD, home of Intel (blech, but it proves my point), as well as UCLA, where the First Packets were sent.

    If any Virginians wanna go toe to toe with me on this one, I'd be glad to make you see my Point.
  • One would normally assume that a network would look, well, mechanical, but I saw no real mechanism behind them. Take the map of the Mbone: It could be mistaken for a 2-d rendering of, say, bacterial growth vectors.

    Akk if Gould saw your comment he would freak! His point (if you manage to make it through one of his books) seems to be that 1)graphical represntation of anything can be very misleading, and 2)many human created things tend to take on bio-like apperences becouse the way we create thing is like evoution (not realy, but his point is that it is close enough so that, becouse of 1., the corse simalrity ends up looking realy close).

    That said, I think its realy cool but should be looked at as art, and not much more.
  • Visualizations such as these are not only intriguing to techies, they can be very valuable educational tools for non-techies, to help overcome the "magic black box" syndrome that gives rise to so much stupid behavior. Even though a non-technical person may miss 99% of the meaning of any given visualization of the Internet, the mere viewing of it can give a non-techie that critical clue that there is something specific to the Internet. You don't just double-click the AOL icon on your desktop, type an e-mail, and it magically appears at the destination -- instead, specific "things" are happening. By bringing it out of the mystical realm, dealing with problems (like said e-mail bouncing back) naturally becomes an exercise in analysis, rather than frustration that the magic isn't working.

    As much as I hate analogies between computers and cars, I'll use one. A non-mechanic does not throw his/her hands up in the air when their car suddenly dies in the middle of a traffic jam. S/He may not know much about the car, but you can bet (or at least hope) that one of the first things they'll check is their gas gauge. If they fail to find the real cause, they may still feel frustrated, but not so much as if they had absolutely no clue why the vehicle stopped. That tiny first bit of awareness is critically empowering; without it, they are a slave to their own ignorance.

    Visualizations of the Internet won't lead the non-techie to run down to the local electronics shop to buy a breakout box for analyzing network failures, but they can break the shackles of misguided and unhelpful notions of "magic black boxes." So do your Mom, neighbor, child's teacher, etc. a favor and share these and similar visualizations with them!

    Journey to Yandol [drizzle.com] (science fiction short story)

  • between "visual" brains and "mathematical" brains. At least when it comes to programmers. Look at the fascination these images evoke in slashdotters... people who've been informed all their lives that they are "left-brained" and "technical" people, who would do best to leave art to the gifted.

    My feeling has always been that visualization is an indispensible part of technology. How can you understand load balancing without having a feel for the way the net looks? How can you understand a select or a try instruction without picturing a cascade of logic? Is it possible to understand the TCP/IP protocol without one of those helpful flow charts?

    Hey folks, maybe awe and love for technology is a lot more "right-brained" than it appears at first glance. Could just be that we are well rounded individuals, after all.

  • You've got an interesting point -- for someone who can't understand the number of potential thinking pattern differences. For instance, I find diagrams of flow logic to be completely useless, even in cases of large systems because I think it out better in my mind without them and then punch the code in in such a way as to make the result I want (and leave it readable).

    Some other people prefer it other ways ... let us be individuals without making value judgements ...
  • by technos ( 73414 ) on Thursday September 30, 1999 @09:27AM (#1647880) Homepage Journal
    I discover this site a while back; Someone posted it to a thread on 'mapping the internet'. While most of the images are startlingly beautiful, the other thing that struck me about the attempts to 'map' also looked organic. One would normally assume that a network would look, well, mechanical, but I saw no real mechanism behind them. Take the map of the Mbone: It could be mistaken for a 2-d rendering of, say, bacterial growth vectors. Mabye saying 'the internet has a life of its own' has a wee bit more validity than anyone thought...
  • Just spent the last hour or so looking thorough the site... very nice...

    But - lots of it looks to be a little old. Kinda like they are abandoned projects and what not. Granted, many were PhD projects. Too bad they were kept up. Very interesting.

    the visual bandwidth is very helpful. Look at any of the latest and greatet network management packages - VitalSuite, Enterprise Pro, Concord etc.. they all give slick visual reps of what is happening inside of the router, what is flowing on the wire.

    W/o the visual, numbers next to your vital router stats are hard to see and understand
  • I have to know why /.'s icon for the Internet looks like an over simplified Token Ring network diagram.

  • by jlb ( 78725 )
    Doesn't http://www.cybergeography.com/atlas/harmony.gif
    look a lot like "unix" in jurassic park?
  • I have wasted the last hour or so here at work because of that site ... damn fine site :)
  • The point is, now that the /. Effect is known to happen when articles such as this go up, Rob and the staff should inform the submitters that the article is going up and when, so that THEY can arrange for the mirror.

    For well run sites, the /. effect simply does not exist. For others, not so well run, its existence proves their cluelessness.

    In answer to YOUR comment, oh, Toasty, Kenly One: mirroring a .com is the responsibility of the owners, especially when they post copyright info on the site.

    /. is a test for SysAdmin skills. These guys failed.
  • Aye, as someone who works in tech support for an internet provider, I'm somewhat amazed at the kinds of calls we sometimes get asking us to support totally off the wall things. Every time I get the urge to say something like, "Umm yeah, I just put a steering wheel cover on a few weeks ago, and now my car won't start...maybe I'll call the folks that made the cover and see if they can help me." But back to the original post, I found the site pretty interesting at least. And there were some great pictures in there. I'm not sure how useful any of the maps/mapping programs really were, but they were at least enjoyable to look at.
  • What would you have it look like? I mean, think about it. How DO you represent the net? Personally, I don't think there's much more you can put in that size of an icon.

    my .02
  • Yes, it does. Remarkably so, execpt that the programmer in the movie hadn't taken much time to assign specific icons to each of his files.

    I remeber laughing out loud at that part in the theater. It was already pretty quiet (sorta suspensful) but it got REAL quiet there, at least for a few seconds.

  • Personally, i find the concept of the Internet (or any network) as an organic being quite romantic. :)

    We could imagine each small cluster / network of computers as a tree. Each of these clusters can be sub-divided into their core components (the branches, roots, leaves), smaller and smaller until their base particles are attained (morons and electrns :) ).

    Likewise, we can expand our conceptual view - a large network (wan) of smaller sub-networks would be as a grove of trees. Through forests, and entire vegetal zones, crossing our imaginary "borders", and expanding across the earth.

    The parallel between organic life and network "life" is amazing, n'est pas? :)

    .------------ - - -
    | big bad mr. frosty
    `------------ - - -
  • Could we beowolf that and make a super-cool visualization?

"The Avis WIZARD decides if you get to drive a car. Your head won't touch the pillow of a Sheraton unless their computer says it's okay." -- Arthur Miller