In the fall of 2000, Ches and Hal moved to a spin-off from Lucent/Bell Labs named Lumeta Corporation. This company applies our topological discovery techniques to discover the perimeter of our clients' intranets. Both Hal and Ches have moved on from Lumeta.
I no longer runs the Internet Mapping Project. I am not sure what Lumeta is doing with it, if anything.
These paths change over time, as routes reconfigure and the Internet grows. We are preserving this data, and plan to run the scans for a long time. The database should help show how the Internet grows. We think we can even make a movie of this growth someday.
The simple layout algorithm produces some nice maps.
We have made some maps from this layout. A map helps us visualize things, to pick out points of interest, and find things that warrant closer inspection. Once the layout is computed, the map can be colored to show a number of things. The Internet is its own space.
The layout can be colored in many ways: with geographical clues, network capacity, etc. An Internet atlas would be interesting. We currently have maps colored by distance from the test host, IP address, and geographic region.
These maps are quite smashing, if we do say so ourselves. The December 1998 issue of Wired Magazine has the layout generated from data collected in mid-September. Hal generated a color scheme based on the IP address of the nodes. This sick idea ("Excuse me, may I have a prettier Internet address please?") creates a color scheme that seems to match Wired's traditional typography. But it actually does show communities that share similar network addresses.
Here is a .gif of the layout appearing in Wired.
Where are you on the Wired map? Don't ask. With nearly 100,000 nodes on the map, an index would be a huge sea of small type.
The database is documented here.
There has been confusion about this database. It is not the picture itself, but the raw data of the traceroute paths. It is a compressed text file, not a Microsoft Excel, or other database file.
The packets are sent with slowly-incrementing TTL fields. When a packet fails to return, perhaps because it was lost or dropped by a firewall, we try a couple more times, then give up, recording any return code.
We now run the layout on the minimum distance spanning tree, and the results on a 36 inch plotter are very close to a nice map.
Here's a movie (13MB) of one recent layout.
This data cries for interactive visualization tools. We've tried 3D, which didn't help as much as you might think. Lumeta now has the Mapviewer product which allows our clients to dig down into these graphs and extract a great deal of data about routers and connectivity.
One goal is to collect the data over time, and make a time-lapse movie of the growth of the Internet. Time-lapses of the annealing process are already interesting: it writhes and squirms and such.