In November of 02006, I was working at a company on a project that entailed surveying the entire Internet. I wanted a way to easily view and manipulate the data we were gathering. This is what I came up with:

Picture of the NetMap depicting activity on the IP 66.248.149.141

Each vertical bar is 256 pixels tall and represents an octet in an IP address. The horizontal stripes within were the data I wanted to read in two dimensions: width and contrast. Each stripe on the octet bar would also depict aggregates for the addresses it contained. 16,777,216 addresses in the leftmost bar, 65,536 in the second, 256 in the third and a single address in the fourth. This is in accordance with how the Internet's address space is partitioned. Further maturations of this interface also depicted colour-coded regional and corporate network assignments to give a bird's-eye view of the Internet at large.

Interaction and Implementation

Each octet bar could be dragged up and down by the mouse. When you let go of any but the rightmost bar, all bars to the right of it would automatically slide to the point at which there was the most activity in the data. The numbers at the top of each bar would also naturally change. The compact size of this interface left significant real estate on a typical screen for more detailed information to be displayed.

I implemented the only fully working prototype of this interface as SVG and AJAX over a RESTful Web interface to my employer's database.

Inspired by the Glass Engine

In 02001, several researchers at IBM designed a visualization of the works of Philip Glass which allowed a listener to navigate based on several different aspects of the composer's repertoire. It was called the Glass Engine, and, much like the work of its patron, is minimal, elegant and profound.