Books written by Ray Sullivan

Saturday, 1 February 2014

What Next - Sat Nav for the Internet?

An amateur graphic designer - not sure if that means unqualified or just unemployed - has drawn up a map of the internet.  It's not the first attempt at this and almost certainly won't be the last, but the man, Martin Vargic, has used an interesting approach to the subject.

Most previous attempts have focussed on the topology of the network, almost impossible today given the world wide distribution and the peer to peer contributions. In fact there are suggestions that the internet is like an iceberg, with the 'visible' net, that which can be found by search engines such as Google forming the tip. I'm not sure what the rest looks like because it isn't visible, but it's reasonable to assume the security services, military, governments et al have extensive hidden parts of the network for obvious reasons. So too does the business community - my online banking, for example, is only just submerged and hopefully only visible to me and my bank. The rest of that bank should be submerged way deeper again.


Then there are the shadow organisations, the ones opposing the law enforcement agencies and the secret services as well as the illegitimate commercial ventures. In short, the criminal and terrorist rings that move stolen goods and money around or plot to terrorise you and me. They appear to control a significant chunk of this hidden internet.

If we ever find out where it is hidden it should be easy to recognise, judging by announcements made recently by he British Prime Minister David Cameron. He has vowed to search every corner of the hidden internet to find and eradicate the bad guys. Noble, worthwhile and very generous given he's supposed to be running the country as well. At least his insight indicates that the hidden internet contains vertices, which are conspicuously absent from Martin's map, so that should be a giveaway.

What Martin has done, and very skilfully it has to said, is to create a faux map containing two continents, the old world and the new world. The old world contains the likes of Microsoft and Apple, while the new world contains social networks like Facebook and Twitter, search engines like Google and, well, Google (to be fair Yahoo does occupy an outpost of the new world and therefore, by default, so does Bing). In a suspiciously pointy southern sub-continent there is a region labelled internet crime. Perhaps that is the door to the hidden internet? Is there a sat nav provided for this virtual map? There are parts of this map I'd like to avoid.

Assuming Martin's analysis is a reasonable representation of the internet and that the online equivalent of tectonics prevails, we should see the collision of the old and the new world sometime, probably in our lifetimes thanks to Moore's Law and the internet corollaries, and a new new world emerging. Perhaps the collision will seal off the hidden internet, or at least the bits most of us could live without, which would be rather unfortunate for my alter-ego B L O'Feld. Of course, if anyone could turn colliding continents into a business opportunity, it would be him.

The map is a creative way of looking at what now surrounds us, permeates every crevice of our lives and in many ways is the real world. It probably isn't complete, but then again what map is? And it probably will look very different this time next year given the rate of internet change. Martin may have created a new internet profession, populated at the moment just by him. Maybe that should occupy part of the new world hinterlands on his first update. I suspect he could be very busy.

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