Examining 40 Maps that Explain the Internet

July 11, 2014
John Huntington

Taking a look at what’s going on behind the scenes of the Internet almost always ends with new insights that regular Internet users weren’t aware of before. Whether you’re looking at what happens when you use an online streaming service like Netflix, or listening to what the Internet sounds like (hint: it’s very loud), there’s much more to the modern-day Internet than meets the eye.

To that end, Timothy Lee of news website Vox recently sat down and closely examined the Internet. Lee, however, explained the Internet in a way you might not expect: through a series of maps. With his collection of maps examining everything from ARPANET, the precursor to the modern Internet, to the languages of the world according to Twitter, Lee does a fantastic job of explaining, as he notes, “where [the Internet] came from, how it works, and how it's used by people around the world.”

So what are a few of our favorites from the collection? How the world gets online: fixed broadband penetration in 2012, showing how Internet access is “widespread in most parts of the world” but still “fairly scarce in much of sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East”; How Superstorm Sandy looked to the Internet, which takes a close look at the decline in web servers running SSL encryption software after the storm; and Data centers in the United States, a map of where the biggest tech companies have their data centers here within our nation’s borders.

All in all, Lee’s map-based explanation of the Internet is a great (and unconventional) analysis of the Internet as we know it. We’re glad to see this amount of attention going into explaining what’s often a vastly misunderstood everyday technology.

Are you curious about the history, evolution, and current uses of the Internet? Head over to Vox and take a look at the full article. We absolutely recommend giving it a look.

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