Growth of the early Internet, node by node

Network diagrams are a popular way of visualizing social and corporate relationships. Network theory has been used to model telecommunications performance and especially, the Internet. Communications networks increase in value as the number of connections increases. Metcalfe’s Law attempts to quantify the increased value.

Optimizing Metcalfe’s Law

For a network with n members, Metcalfe’s Law posits that the total value of that network is proportional to n * (n-1). Metcalfe’s Law as applied to the Internet, and even to the telephone network, is only valid if all connections have equal value. This is incorrect. Some internet connections are hardly used and contribute limited value. Of course, there are reasons to connect everyone that are not based on monetary value! Rural electrification is an example.

Andrew Odlyzko’s article about Metcalfe’s Law (IEEE Spectrum, 2006) was written with a keen awareness of the 2000 dotcom bubble. Odlyzko demonstrated how Metcalfe’s Law’s applicability could be limited by the equal value assumption, among others. I read it, and wondered: What is the Internet’s optimal number of nodes and connections? When did the value of a larger Internet network start diminishing?

At some point, ISPs (Internet Service Providers) stopped charging users for access, as the business of delivering content became more valuable than providing greater network connectivity. AOL charged for service until 2002 or so.

I thought it would be helpful to begin with a timeline of Internet growth, by number of sites connected and corresponding events, as a starting point for determining incremental value. I searched for a streamlined history, but the best that I could find is provided by The Computer History Museum, and it isn’t quite linear. It also has a lot of technical detail that isn’t relevant for verifying Metcalfe’s Law. I decided to construct a timeline of dates and nodes, from which connectivity can be determined. I am writing this partly for myself, for reference purposes. (I don’t know how to value connectivity, not yet.)

In the beginning

In the beginning, the Internet had only two nodes. It was called the ARPANET. (more…)

Published in: on November 25, 2016 at 6:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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Idea for a very open ID

Be receptive! Be open to each and every type of user input for authentication.

Universal sign on

This very user-centric approach for identity resolution leverages the many open API’s now available for web services. Feel free to select your user name-of-choice!

  • @Twitter user name
  • Facebook.com/user name
  • user name@gmail.com
  • YouTube.com/user name
  • user name.wordpress.com or user name.wordpress.org blog URL
  • Flickr.com/user name
  • user name@yahoo.com
  • Open ID provider URL
  • more?

In his identity resolution related post, developer Luis Farzati emphasizes that:

the objective is to allow the user to input whatever wanted [in order] to login… If it exists as a valid username out here, we’ll find it and suggest it!

Casual testing

Luis Farzati’s Smart Identity Resolver Widget is on Github. A demo is included. I tried it. (more…)

Published in: on December 6, 2011 at 9:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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Internet standards for HTML

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is standardizing over 100 specifications for the open web, in at least 13 working groups. The CSS Working Group alone is in charge of 50 specifications. This does not include work on Unicode, HTTP and TLS.

http://tantek.com/2011/028/t5/standards-w3c-100-openweb-specs

New tag proposal.  Not really.

The nice thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from

I was waiting to post this until the debate between W3C and WHATWG about the status of HTML5 scope was resolved. However, I have waited since February 2011. Consensus is that HTML5 is being inappropriately used as a catch-all for every standard supported by modern browsers. Modern browsers actually include much more: CSS3 styling, WOFF (web fonts), semantic web elements such as microformats, 3-D graphics including SVG, and performance enhancements. HTML5 tags are merely one part of semantic web support. As a result, terminology was modified by WHATWG. HTML is the new HTML5(more…)

Published in: on November 15, 2011 at 4:25 am  Comments (1)  
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Zanran is a new data search engine

Something new and different in search has appeared.

Zanran is an internet start-up company that hails from somewhere other than Mountain View or Sunnyvale, California. Nor is it in “Silicon Valley East”, the new incubator of technology ventures otherwise known as the Borough of Manhattan. Zanran is farther than farthest Fishkill, across a span greater than even the Tappan-Zee can bridge. Zanran is a U.K. domiciled company in Islington, London.

Not a Google Universal Search 2.0 competitor

Zanran seems to be more of a database searching tool. It would probably be best classified as a specialized search engine.

screen shot of zanran search website

Zanran Search beta version: screen shot

Zanran’s search method is described as patented but based on open-source programs. The actual patent, which I only glanced at, A Method and System of Indexing Historical Data, should help in clarifying. Zanran distinguishes itself because it is particularly well-suited to web search for information that has embedded numerical or graphical data:

Zanran helps you to find ‘semi-structured’ data on the web… numerical data e.g. a graph in a PDF report, or a table in an Excel spreadsheet, or a bar chart shown as an image in an HTML page. This huge amount of information can be difficult to find using conventional search engines, which are focused primarily on finding text… Put more simply: Zanran is Google for data.

Zanran is not a search engine with obvious uses in text or sentiment analysis. The beta website has a long page of examples demonstrating the speed (fast), breadth (across a very diverse assortment of scientific and analytic use cases) and quality of results.

Arthur Weiss, a competitive analyst and former long-time employee of Dun & Bradstreet UK, did a very thorough review of Zanran Search (April 2011):

I’ve been playing with a new data search engine called Zanran… The site is in an early beta. Nevertheless my initial tests brought up material that would only have been found using an advanced search on Google – if you were lucky. As such, Zanran promises to be a great addition for advanced data searching.

Zanran enters the marketplace

Zanran appears to have retained Mallard Digital Marketing. Mallard Digital’s hallmarks are “Authenticity, Transparency and Engagement”. Mallard features an attractive duck in the company logo, and in this rather engaging 15-second video. I base my conjecture about Mallard and Zanran upon three pieces of evidence:

  1. Mallard’s recent announcement, about the acquisition of a search engine as a new client on 29 March 2011
  2. The Zanran company dog enjoyed playing with Mallard’s Labrador retriever in March 2011 (also via Facebook)

Analogy and Digression: SHODAN

As a very general analogy, Zanran functionality reminds me of SHODAN computer search. SHODAN is a search engine that can be used to:

find specific computers (routers, servers, etc.) … [it is] a search engine of banners. Google and Bing are great for finding websites. But what if you’re interested in finding computers running a certain piece of software (such as Apache)?  Maybe a new vulnerability came out and you want to see how many hosts it could infect?

Here’s a screen shot of the main query page:

SHODAN computer search screenshot

SHODAN search engine: screen shot

I am impressed to no end with SHODAN. It is quite clever, and remains very low profile, much like my blog.

UPDATE

I drafted this on 12 May 2011 but failed to actually post due to my insatiable need to excessively fuss and play with WordPress functionality. In the interim, others (most notably Search Engine Journal) have also found the subject of the following post, the Zanran data search engine. I mention this not as self-promotion, but rather, to emphasize that Zanran may be of greater significance than my casual tone indicates.

Published in: on June 21, 2011 at 11:20 am  Comments (5)  
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Aspire to Chrome OS Netbook

Is this the new Chrome OS Netbook by Acer?

Is this the new Chrome O/S making an arrival via Acer Aspire?

According to DailyTech, the first Chrome OS Netbooks are on their way, and to be expected as soon as next month, presumably December 2010. Does that mean that the Google Chrome operating system (O/S) will come bundled with only certain brands of PC’s, such as Acer, and the Acer Aspire One, depicted above? I don’t have an alternative solution, not initially. It certainly would be nice to switch between operating systems with the same ease that one can choose between browsers, while continuing to use the same physical hardware.

At the moment, I can combine Windows 7 with any of IE8, Firefox or Chrome with the greatest of ease. It remains for the imagination to see a future where I can just as easily change the O/S, e.g. start with Windows 7 and Google Chrome browser, then select Google Chrome O/S while retaining Google Chrome Browser. Finally, imagine running the Chrome O/S using either IE 8.0 or Opera browsers!

And please put aside any questions along the lines of, “But WHY would anyone want to do such a thing?” I confess, I have no answer for that at the moment.

Photo Credit: Acer Aspire One with Chrome O/S via DailyTech

Published in: on November 3, 2010 at 12:41 pm  Comments (1)  
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Typeface Scales Up, Keeps in Step with HTML5

I’ve been asked about the small insignia at the bottom right corner of this page: It is the Typekit logo!

There have been some exciting developments in typography for digital publishing recently.  HTML5’s arrival permits the true ability to render typeface online. It is known as the WOFF standard. Google’s Chrome browser version 6 supports WOFF, and as of September 21, so does Typekit. Typekit offered WOFF support for Internet Explorer 9, still in beta, since the middle of September. N.B. Many WordPress sites use Typekit fonts. I don’t know if there is a contractual relationship between the two. I am appreciative of Typekit’s free font service for my WordPress.com budget blog.

This is a nice example comparing Windows versus Mac O/S. Better vertical metrics result in greater consistency across platforms:

Typekit updates with WOFF for Mac

Before and After Updated Vertical Metrics for Mac Fonts via Typekit Blog

Here you can see the improvement due to better rendering that comes with a WOFF-supported browser and typefaces:

Typekit updates rendering for Internet Explorer

Anticipate Better Rendering in Internet Explorer 9 via Typekit Blog

Enjoy some all around spectacular-ness: From the Lost World’s Fair site!  The image is a lush, multi-font fantasy of World’s Fair 2040. It is beautiful.

More details are available

via the Typekit blog:Adobe fonts, now with improved metrics and rendering In keeping with our strategy of constantly iterating and improving our font library, we have updated the following… Read More

Published in: on October 1, 2010 at 3:34 pm  Comments (2)  
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URL Tall Tales

I really enjoyed Bit.ly versus Goo.gl, by Jonah Keegan. It was written in December 2009, about the impact of the new Google short URL service, goo.gl on link relationships throughout the internet.

Bit.ly and Goo.gl: A URL Shorter Story?

Jonah indicated that bit.ly, owned by BetaWorks, was the most commonly used URL short link service. He described how many users were baffled about how to use Goo.gl, myself included! Also, goo.gl was restricted to Google product pages only, and not for broader consumer use. See image* for details, and please click to view with better resolution.

Google shorter URLs

The demand for shortened URL’s has burgeoned. Bit.ly self-describes as The Bitlyverse! (more…)

Published in: on September 29, 2010 at 6:00 pm  Comments (4)  
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Protected: Ah Schadenfreude!

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Published in: on September 26, 2010 at 3:27 pm  Enter your password to view comments.  
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Periodic Table of the Elements

Enjoy Josh Duck’s delightful Periodic Table of HTML5 elements!

Each of the 104 107 elements of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) working draft of HTML5 are present. There is even a combined lanthanide-and-actinide series insert. Josh refers to it as the “Embedding content” section. I annotated a small partial screen shot.

Embedded content elements represented as Lanthanide and Actinide series

Rare earth HTML5 elements

The dusty rose-colored block includes some of the most novel and appealing of the elements that differentiate HTML5 from HTML4: map, canvas and video.

Published in: on August 24, 2010 at 3:38 am  Comments (3)  
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Muro Drawing Application from DeviantArt

I saw a Twitter entry from Chris Messina about this a few days ago. Pardon me, he’s trademarked his name, let me try this: chrismessina™ .  Here is the link to the Muro drawing application http://muro.deviantart.com/, and the Ultimate Muro User’s Guide.

It is free, it is from Deviant Art, and anyone can have fun with it. No artistic training is necessary. I say this with confidence.  Prior to trying it, I’d relied almost exclusively on MS Paint as a drawing aid. I drew a snail using Muro. Here it is.

Interpretive Art by Ellie K

Snail Fantasy by Ellie K (Muro Drawing Application)

I think it is a beautiful snail. However, I will continue to restrict my public domain creations to screen shots and uploads from the Second Life™ interface by Linden Lab™ until I acquire a more refined aesthetic sensibility.

HTML Tip:  For that little trademark entityTM superscript, use this:

 entity™

or the character decimal code:

 entity & # 8 4 8 2;

Note that the character hex code

 entity & # 2 1 2 2;

did not work. Perhaps WordPress is to blame? Also note that the extra spaces are mine:  despite many efforts, with much html, WordPress insisted on converting my source into page view.

UPDATE: For a more comprehensive description of Muro, and a very nice visual which is probably more aesthetically appealing than my snail, I’d suggest having a look at the CAD blog on Muro.

Published in: on August 16, 2010 at 11:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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