Seeking answers to life’s most complex questions in the pages of Homer’s Iliad seems like an ancient luxury, especially when they can be so easily obtained with a five-second web search. The Internet gods have both blessed and cursed us an insatiable palate for instant gratification—and browser speeds are only increasing with time.
Designer Dafna Aizenberg brings this very digital evolution to life in her 120-page Atlas of the World Wide Web, which outlines the global evolution of Internet trends, social networking to the growing density of e-commerce. Her choice of illustrating these modern practices with a traditional means of book-of-maps representation is one that she hopes creates a feeling of nostalgia, she tells Co.Design, "taking readers back to childhood, a time when most of us were enchanted by big books with huge maps of the world."
Among her findings is a surge in the concentration of Facebook users in the U.S. and India between 2009 and 2012—not unexpected, but not usually portrayed in such an appealing way as it is here, with deepening splashes of Mark Zuckerbergian blue. Intricate constellations of simple yet frighteningly dark lines illustrate the growing rate of cyber attacks in Chile and Argentina.
The atlas is also a striking marker of the global disparity in Internet access. "While most modern Western countries are around 70% Internet penetration level," Aizenberg says, "Africa and Asia are well behind, with the mass majority of people not being able to gain online access." At the same time, she adds, where people are connecting, they're really connecting. "I also wanted to portray the growing similarity of countries worldwide. Nations that seem to have nothing in common apart from social economical level and Internet penetration suddenly appear to be closely related in terms of search ranking."
Visit the Atlas of the World Wide Web site for updates on the project and publication.