Here’s a fun thought experiment- let’s run down the list of earth-changing inventions, shall we? Surely we need to include discoveries like the printing press, penicillin and the electric light. But a strong case could certainly be made for the personal computer. As it stands today the machine you are reading this article on (even your smartphone) has more functionality and computing power than was available when the first moon landings occurred.

But the computer was just the beginning. By themselves they are certainly powerful tools, capable of allowing a single person to do more in less time than ever before. But we argue that it wasn’t until these computers allowed us to communicate and share our thoughts instantly over vast differences that their true potential was realized.

Strap in and start surfing because this week we’re talking about the Internet!

Clean Shaven in Wyoming

The more seasoned among us will remember a time when trying to find information meant either going to a physical library, opening up an encyclopedia or diving into the newspaper or yellow pages. All of that seems so antiquated now since the Internet put a world of information at our fingertips.

Think about it- libraries are putting their most interesting and valuable pieces online for anyone to access. This is the version of the Internet that we were all hoping for- the democratization of knowledge, accessible from the comfort of your home and on your own time.

But in addition to libraries, the Internet became something else- our best method for finding goods and services.

This first visualization comes to us courtesy of John McLean and Zippia and shows, with colors and labels, just which companies each state tends to Google more than any other.

data visualization of internet searches by state
They love Legos in Utah

This is the kind of data discovery we find fascinating, especially when you take just a second and examine the map. For example, of course Coca Cola would be searched for more often in Georgia- that’s where the headquarters is. Same thing with Tesla Motors of Palo Alto California.  But we have to wonder why Utah loves Legos so much, or if Wyoming must be the most clean-shaven state in the union.

A World Without Borders

This next visualization comes to us from Dixon Jones of majestic.com, and this gave us an entirely new perspective on the world.

data visualization of internet servers
The world… of Internet

What you’re looking at here is a visualization of every Internet server on the planet seen from space. What we love most about this one is that there are no map overlays to show you which countries are where, but you can definitely see where most of the world’s Internet is stored.

This map also shows us a somewhat disturbing trend. The promise of the Internet was to allow everyone, all over the earth, to connect and share things. It was a great promise- such an invention would surely tear down some misconceptions and hopefully bring the world together. But looking at this map we see plenty of spaces where we know people live, but they can’t connect. We should get to work on that.

Constellations of Information.

Our favorite visualization visualization of the week, and undoubtedly the most impressive, shows us just about every internet site out there… to scale.

Internet data visualization
A constellation of information

What don’t we love about this. Every circle you see is a different site. Each circle represents a site, and the color of the circles represent different languages. Zoom in to the picture and the names of the sites become clear and even smaller circles appear in the spaces between the larger ones. Click on a circle and you can see the exact rank, description, and link to the site.

This is precisely the kind of Internet data visualization we love because it allows us to see both the big picture when zoomed all the way out (turns out most of the Internet is in English) but also encourages you to get more detailed and explore individual sites.

No matter how you visualize it, the Internet is a vast and amazing place. Get out there and go exploring!

Until next time,

The VisualCrew