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Meet the Man Determined to Map the Entire Internet

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As a scholar of Internet topology and professor of computer science at the University of Wisconsin, Paul Barford studies interrelated networks to earn his daily bread. Consequently, he would often get asked a similar question to the Russian’s query: “Can you show me a map of the Internet?”.

What should a map of the Internet look like? A scatter-plot of geo-concentrations of posting? Mapped locations of Internet service providers’ headquarters, maybe?

Barford considered many approaches to this question, but ultimately settled on the physical infrastructure that makes possible the dissemination of all this data and content-the roads, guardrails, and jughandles of the proverbial “Information superhighway.” Six years, one Department of Homeland Security grant, and a miscellany of tedium later, Barford and his team of researchers created the Internet Atlas, an evolving geospatial map of Internet anatomy that Barford says can both improve our web and make it safer.

Why map the “Physical Internet infrastructure”? They’d say: “So, you study Internet topology. Can you show me a map of the Internet?” And before the Internet atlas, I couldn’t. Could making such a map publicly available make an attack on Internet infrastructure easier, if someone were able to see how everything is connected?

So the map would be helpful in understanding our vulnerabilities if common carrier doctrine applies to Internet infrastructure.


Article originally posted at

Post Author: Carla Parsons

1 thought on “Meet the Man Determined to Map the Entire Internet

    Keith Gaddis

    (October 29, 2017 - 8:02 am)

    Ok thanks

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