Illegally Gathered Data Creates Beautiful 4-D Snapshot Of The Internet

Owen Poindexter
Doing bad for a good cause, the Internet Census Project created this beautiful gif that shows internet usage worldwide.

The animated gif you are seeing here is an illegally created 4-D snapshot of the internet. The lights show internet activity with warmer colors (red, orange, yellow) showing increased activity and the cooler colors lesser (but some activity). Darkness, such what we see on the Sahara Desert or Greenland show minimal internet activity. The map was made by the Internet Census Project which set up a network of half a million hacked computers worldwide with no passwords or generic passwords, which allowed the map's creators to monitor internet activity. This is definitely illegal, but the map's creators promised to be nice:

"[W]e did not change passwords and did not make any permanent changes... We also uploaded a readme file containing a short explanation of the project as well as a contact email address."

But now to the map itself. The cooling effect of night is obvious, as most people go to sleep, and there is less internet activity. Denser and more developed areas pop out: India and all of Europe turns red with activity during the day, as does Southeast Asia, the entire Eastern coast of South America, much of the Western coast and the Caribbean.

The U.S. is one place where we can see the full rainbow at once, reflecting that the entire country is developed, but not all of it is especially dense, so blues and purples in the middle of the country mix in with the reds and yellows, while the coasts never really turn off.

The darkest regions: the Sahara, the Amazon, Greenland, much of Russia and swaths of China stand out as sparsely inhabited regions due to natural features. Africa shows the clearest example of a place that one would expect to be brighter based on its population, at least on the coasts, which do show some activity. Even the African side of the Mediterranean never really lights up, while Europe, across the pond, sizzles with activity.

While the data is far from perfect, it would be fascinating to plunge into this data set to compare internet usage worldwide, and see how well internet activity correlates with freedom and prosperity, and which countries and cities know no bed time.