Today, everyone takes the Internet for granted. It has been a part of our culture since the late 1950s, although it didn’t truly become widely used until the 1980s. Now, it’s become rather mundane to most people, although if we look carefully at the structure of the Internet it’s anything but simple.
Beginning with ARPNET in 1959, the concept of digitally communicating quickly grew. In the late 1980s, the Internet as we know it today was made commercially available. While looking back at dial-up networks evokes memories of long waits for information to be transmitted, the groundwork was in place, and improved methodologies quickly made the movement of vast quantities of information more convenient.
Networks Grew to Cover the Planet
As the Internet became increasingly accessible to more and more people, rapid communications between anyone located virtually anywhere in the world became possible. That ability to communicate and collaborate with others systemically altered our environment. Today, businesses, governments, various organizations, and individuals have access to sources and quantities of information that would have seemed impossible in the 1970s. But, how does that system really work?
It’s Difficult to Visualize the Internet
The vastness of the Internet as we know it today is hard to describe and even harder to visualize for most people. That’s where Barrett Lyon and the Opte Project enter the picture. The name is derived from the Greek word opt(ós), meaning seen or visible. Lyon sought to develop a visual representation of the Internet to assist others in their quests to understand what the Internet represents and how it has grown and changed.
While the Opte Project began in 2003, the principles involved are still relevant. Even though Internet usage has expanded exponentially since the project began, the nature of the map makes it possible to see how Internet usage is evolving.
Mapping the Internet is Relevant Today and Will Be in the Future
Lyon’s mapping idea provides a wealth of information that is useful as we seek ways to better understand not only the Internet, but our world as well. In addition to being a work of art, a map of the Internet provides a great deal of useful information for scholars, governments, and even aid organizations.
Any map of the Internet is, by its very nature, fluid. As the Internet’s use expands, it’s relatively easy to follow the changes. Networks expand as more people around the globe gain the ability to connect. The brightest area of the map, of course, represent areas where use is the heaviest today. Of course, the map changes dramatically as once-isolated people gain access. As use in any area grows, the network map makes it possible for viewers to see the patterns develop.
Conversely, any negative changes in use will also be relatively simple to visualize. That means, for example, when Internet use is curtailed due to wars, the results are quickly seen. The conflict in Syria, for example, would be visible as network infrastructure is damaged and Internet access is limited.
When natural disasters hit, it’s also easy to see the consequences as the map’s configuration will quickly be altered to reflect the loss of communication after a disaster. As a region recovers and communication capabilities are restored, the network map will reflect those changes as well.
On another level, Lyon’s creation is a constantly evolving work of art. The colors, patterns, and ever-changing content mean the map of the Internet is an amazing artistic creation that continues to enchant people who monitor it.
There are other interesting aspects of the map as well. Since the map represents the growth of the Internet and allows viewers to actually picture how the network works, it’s interesting to point out a metaphor the map also represents.
Today, We are One
When we look carefully at how intertwined our relationships with the world have changed, the importance of relationships becomes apparent. We don’t live in isolation anymore. Events that impact one region are quickly felt around the world. The intricacies of the Internet demonstrate how closely we are related to everyone, no matter where they are located.
While an individual line included in the map may appear inconsequential, a closer examination will demonstrate that line is, indeed, connected to other lines, eventually reaching any location in the network. We are not alone. Indeed, the small bright spot representing our point on the map is connected to all the other points, whether they be small pinpoints of light or one of those omnipresent bright areas. That means we all have the ability to collaborate and make the world a better place.
Working Together, We Can Achieve More
With the vast resources available online, we can find ways to affect positive changes in the world around us. Working together, we can find better ways to improve healthcare around the world, but also in our own backyards.
Businesses can, and should, take advantage of the opportunities presented by Lyon’s map. Doing so can not only make them more successful, it provides a path to understanding how we fit into the big picture and how our efforts benefit the whole.
We’re all part of the big picture, and how we choose to see ourselves in that big picture shows the rest of the world what our true priorities are. Just like Lyon’s map of the Internet, we’re part of something much larger, and we have the ability to enhance our networks.
At VALINTRY, we understand that collectively we are stronger than if we choose to operate alone. We value our relationships and are always seeking ways to improve how our team interacts with those impacted by our organization. Collaborating to find better ways to solve problems allows us and our clients to take advantage of more of those pinpoints of light that may well hold the solutions we need to make the world a better place.
Lyon’s work dramatically presents us with a map of the Internet, but it also demonstrates how we’re all interconnected in other ways as well. When we recognize the importance of relationships, we’re all better able to achieve higher goals that positively impact those around us.