- An amateur designer created a map of the
internetwhere 3,000 websites are depicted as countries.
- Martin Vargic spent 1,000 hours researching each individual website’s popularity and key features.
- He created the first version in 2014, based on the style of National Geographic
When artist and amateur graphic designer Martin Vargic set about visualizing the internet seven years ago, he didn’t see it as a series of zeroes and ones, or as giant servers physically storing our every digital move. Instead, Vargic envisioned the internet almost as its own planet. One which, he thought, could be beautifully mapped out.
Vargic posted his first map of the internet on his website in 2014 when he was a full-time student in Slovakia. He was inspired by the comic-style “map of online communities,” created by Randall Munroe in 2007 for his comic website xkcd, but Vargic used Photoshop to model his version after the style of maps seen in National Geographic. Vargic updated the original map in 2015, but thought it was time to revisit the project in 2021.
“The landscape of the internet has changed and the old map became more and more outdated,” he told Insider. “I improved and improved as an artist and designer, thought that the map of the internet deserved to be revisited, and the concept further explored and realized on an even more ambitious and comprehensive scale.”
After more than 1,000 hours of work, what emerged was his most detailed iteration yet – while the previous maps were made of around 200 websites, the 2021 version includes 3,000. On the map, each website is represented as a country, and they are grouped together based on their categories, such as news outlets, social networks, e-commerce platforms, and search engines.
Vargic based on the relative size of each website on its average traffic between January 2020 and January 2021, according to Alexa Rank, the Amazon-owned Alexa Internet’s measure of how popular a website is, calculated by unique users and page views.
The center of the map depicts the “core and backbone of the internet as we know it,” Vargic said – This includes internet service providers, such as Orange, Xfinity, and Verizon, which are then surrounded by web browsers (with
Zooming into the map is a journey in itself. Each website’s “country” is outlined in its main brand color, with founders and CEOs representing the capitals and between 20,000 and 30,000 more “towns” and “cities” depicting some of the features, services, and notable personalities involved.
For example, the
“While making a map, I had to do the considerable research on the content of these websites, their services, features, and most popular users, which was not very easy with so many different languages,” Vargic said.
The 2021 version of the map, aside from featuring so many more websites, contains different content from the ones Vargic first made years ago, as the landscape has changed and new have platforms launched. Vargic said that as the internet evolves, his map will become outdated, and estimates that by the end of the decade he’ll need to create a new one.
Ultimately, Vargic said he hopes his maps will give people a better visual understanding of the internet ecosystem, “condensing the sheer complexity and chaos of the world wide web into a more manageable, though still comprehensive, package.”