Data travels beautifully across the internet

Maybe it’s an instagram of your cat doing something hilarious or maybe its a fake I’m-sick email to your boss, but the data we send every day from phones, laptops and tablets is all part of something much greater than the sum of its parts.

Michael Rigley,from San Francisco, produced this beautiful visualisation showing how the multimedia messages we send everyday – text, emails and more – are passed throuugh the complex network known as the world wide web.

In his own words:

By visualizing the processes that underlie our interactions with this technology we can trace what happens to the information we feed into the network.

But, along with all the data we knowingly send on, we also send out hundreds of bits of metadata – information that describes the nature of the message we send, and the nature of us. Metadata includes things like time messages were sent, links we’ve clicked on, search queries we’ve googled. All this data allows the big advertising companies to paint a surprisingly accurate picture of ourselves. A porttrait we might not think is possible given the limited supply of information they’ve painted it from. Check out Google’s ad preference page, and see if it matches up at all closely with your own view of yourself.



Charlie is a science writer from London. He tweets @UnpopSci.

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1 Comment

  1. Eugene

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