How Many Licks Does it Take To Get to the Center of the Internet?
The Internet may be referred to as the "information superhighway," but
a better analogy might be an enormous, hulking Tootsie Roll pop. Check
out this colorful new Internet map (click the image to enlarge) from
physicists at Tel-Aviv University in Israel and you'll see what we
mean. It's a mathematical representation of the pipes, routers and
other bits of hardware that ferry data across the Web. At the map's
red gooey center is a cluster of 100 networks operated by massive
corporations like ATT Worldnet and Google. Its purple crunchy outer
shell consists mostly of small ISPs. The trouble with being on the
periphery is that your data must travel through the congested center,
which is sort of like flying through O'Hare on your way from New York
to Los Angeles. Basically, it's really inefficient. The researchers
don't offer much in the way of solutions but say their model will help
scientists better track the evolution of the Web, which in turn will
help people innovate ways to make it less like a lollipop and more
like, well, a superhighway.
If you want to learn more about the map and you're undaunted by math
speak like "k-shell decomposition," "percolation theory," and "fractal
geometry," download the paper.