One of the most humorous moments in the history of the Internet was when Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens referred to it as a "series of tubes." While we all had a laugh, it was also indicative of the vast misunderstanding that's present when people think of the Internet. It's hard to actually draw an accurate map of the Internet and its codependencies, but a map from Russia gets really close.
The wonderful folks at Reddit brought our attention to a "Map of the Internet" created by a team of Russians. Here's the official description translated by a Redditor named weasel707:
Each site is a circle on the map, and its size is determined by the number of visitors to the site: more hits means a larger circle. Transitions of users between sites creates "connections": the stronger the connection, the more sites "want" to be close to each other on the map.
The Internet Map is a snapshot of the global network in its state at the end of 2011. It captures more than 350,000 sites from 196 countries. Information regarding over 2 million connections between sites unites them into thematic clusters. As expected, the largest clusters are formed from national sites, i.e. sites belonging to one particular country. For convenience, sites corresponding to a given country are shown in the same colour. For example, the red area is Russia, Yellow is Chinese, Violet is Japan, the large light-blue central area is American, and so on.
It's important to note that clusters have a semantic relationship, i.e. they are united or grouped by their content. For example, one can see an extensive cluster of porno-sites between Japan and Brazil, as well as many small clusters uniting sites of one industry or field.
It's utterly fascinating to see the Internet presented in this way. It's also a good look at how big sites are and how closely related they are to one another. As you might expect, Google is the biggest star in the Internet universe with Facebook, Yahoo and YouTube coming up closely behind it. They make up the center of this universe with everything else revolving around it.
Of course, Reddit set out first to find themselves. As it turns out, Reddit is closest to Twitter with other sites like Cracked, Imgur, Buzzfeed and Tumblr all within its reach.
What about our own WebProNews? We're floating around Bing at the moment for reasons that currently elude us at the office.
Even if you don't want to admit it, you're probably also curious about porn sites. As it turns out, YouPorn and xvideos were battling it for porn site supremacy at the end of 2011.
Another point of interest is MegaUpload. This map was thankfully made before the site was taken down by the feds so we can see how it stacks up to those around it. As it turned out, all of MegaUpload's sites were interconnected with MegaUpload proper being the biggest.
I could spend hours looking at this map and I'm sure you could too. Check it out and start searching for your favorite sites. As far as I'm aware of, it's been able to find every Web site that was in existence at the end of 2011. There is a lot to the Internet and tools like this are invaluable resources in teaching us how it works.