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A Trippy Visualization Charts the Internet’s Growth Since 1997

Wired: “In November 2003, security researcher Barrett Lyon was finishing college at California State University, Sacramento while working full time as a penetration tester—a hacker companies hire to find weaknesses in their own digital systems. At the beginning of each job, Lyon would do some basic reconnaissance of the customer’s infrastructure; “case the joint,” as he puts it. He realized he was essentially refining and repeating a formula to map what the new target network looked like…What followed was a vast, celestial jumble of thin, overlapping lines, starbursts, and branches in a static image that depicted the global internet of the early 2000s. Lyon called the piece Opte, and while his betting colleagues were skeptical of the visual rats nests he produced at first, the final product immediately started attracting fans on Slashdot and beyond…Now Opte is back in an entirely new and updated form. The original version used “traceroutes,” diagnostic commands that scout different paths through a network, to visualize the internet in all of its enormous complexity…The original Opte was a still image, but the 2021 version is a 10K video with extensive companion stills, using BGP data from University of Oregon’s Route Views project to map the global internet from 1997 to today. Lyon worked on the visualization for months and relied on a number of applications, tools, and scripts to produce it…” [h/t Marcus Zillman]

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