'Map of the internet' shows size of web giants

03/08/2012

Google, Facebook and YouTube are the biggest sites in the world, followed by the likes of Baidu and qq in China, according to a new graphic looking at global web use. The map, depicting the size and relationships of the biggest 350,000 websites in the world, was created by Ruslan Enikeev. He measured 2 million links from 196 different countries to create the interactive graphic.

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Presented as a snapshot of the most trafficked portion of the Internet as of the end of 2011, the Internet Map visualizes the websites in terms their linkage to other relevant websites.

While bigger circles represent sites that draw in more traffic than others, they're not simply splattered in random fashion, or at least they don't remain that way. There are unseen links between websites based on users jumping from one site to the other. The stronger these links, the closer sites are drawn towards each other.

"To draw an analogy from classical physics, one may say that websites are electrically charged bodies, while links between them are springs. Springs pull similar websites together, and the charge does not let the bodies adjoin and pushes websites apart if there is no link between them," Enikeev explains. "Originally, all such electrified bodies (websites) are randomly scattered on the surface of the map. Springs are stretched, repulsion energy is high – the system is far from being at equilibrium. Then the websites start moving under the influence of the forces exerted and in a while come to a halt – forces of attraction now become equal to forces of repulsion, the system has reached its equilibrium. It is exactly that state that is shown on the Internet map."

Enikeev's algorithm creates an interesting alignment that can be fun to theorize. For example, Facebook, one of the largest circles on the map, is surrounded by Drupal.org, Joomla.org, Android.com, HTC.com, Slideshare.net, HP.com, Google.com, Live.com, and the list goes on.
Twitter, which is in fairly close proximity, is flanked by Slashdot.org, Nike.com,
GettyImages.com, Style.com, SmugMug.com, Palm.com, and so forth. What does it mean? We're not sure, but we bet someone out there is trying to figure it out.

The Internet Map is free, but Enikeev is asking for PayPal donations to cover server costs.

View the Internet Map here.

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