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  Comments (1)  
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Basic data visualizaton

Simple data viz

Internet users by country in 2010

This is the first of five graphics in a series, State of the Internet 2010. All are hand-made graphics by Jose Duarte. He is exploring new and simple ways to represent information. With his handmade visualization tool-kit, he provides the technology to rapidly create any kind of graphics including

abstracts maps and diagrams, area graphs and charts, arrow diagrams, bar graphs, Venn diagrams, time line charts, bubble graphs, circle diagrams, proportional charts, organization charts, and really, whatever you want.

Do you want your own kit? Follow the link embedded above, and follow the instructions. It can be yours, free of charge, no-strings-attached. Just send an email to Jose Duarte as instructed in the text accompanying the “handmade visualization tool-kit” link.

Published in: on August 8, 2011 at 9:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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Monetize Your Followers

As a statistician and mathematical modeling practitioner, I’m not a stranger to the concept of quantifying the value of intangibles.  In the ethical framework in which I studied and worked, such quantification might be applied to a concept such as negative dollar value of ill-will (per person) generated by denied boarding due to passenger aircraft over booking.  Yet I found myself rather unnerved today by TweetUp’s article today, How much is a follower worth?.  According to TweetUp analytics, the answer is $136.80, as of June 2010.

What is so troubling about this? I believe in free enterprise, von Neumann economic utility theory, liquidity, efficient capital markets, Keynesian economics,  freedom of choice for retail consumers, Adam Smith, and evolution.

Nomenclature confusion: Friends, family, followers versus customers?

I suppose I draw a distinction between the categories of “friends and family” versus “customers and clients”. I want to look out for the best interests of the first category. However, I’m willing to let the Efficient Frontier do its best for the rest, knowing that in the long-run, everything should work out.

Classification dilemma of FOAF

Friend, Fan, Follower or Something Else Entirely?

Twitter assigns two only two types of user roles: follower and following. Google’s Picasa photo application assigns roles of friend, fan and favorite, which is no less confusing.

Google Buzz is more flexible, allowing users to name categories of contacts without restriction. One may have family, friends, colleagues/ coworkers, business contacts and so on.

Facebook is starting to move in the right direction, with friends kept distinct from fans, the latter usually pertaining to organizations or public figures. However, there remains no ability to capture the nuances within the friend category.

I perceive these oddly and inconsistently defined user roles as a discontinuity embedded within the social networking model of Web 2.0. For many months, I could not articulate my unease with certain social networking applications, but not others. Now I understand. I balk at the logical inconsistency and behavioral proscription (as defined by my personal moral framework) in these follower/friend (but no family) role definitions.

My instinct is to avoid any entangling of ties between family/ friend/ loved ones and my customer base. Behavior that is required to achieve the goals of commercial FOAF *.gifenterprise is not appropriate for those with whom I am emotionally involved.

Perhaps the conflict can be resolved through better nomenclature. (more…)

Published in: on July 7, 2010 at 5:30 pm  Comments (2)  
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