Untangling the web: Japan experts publish map of the net
Navigating the internet can be bamboozling. Rebecca Armstrong and Simon Usborne look at which websites made it onto the map of the net
Mapping the great network that is the internet was never going to be an easy task. There would have to be as many connections as there are in the human brain. But for a group of web architects based in Japan, it is worth a go.
Modelled on the fiendishly complex Tokyo Metro map, the latest Web Trend Map (the 2007/V2 version) organises some of cyberspace's movers and shakers into an easy-to-read chart.
Plotted by the Japanese firm Information Architects (IA), each line on the map represents a theme, be it news (green), tools (pink) or the brown Chinese line, which IA calls the "second internet", after the country's efforts to censor much of the content freely available in the West.
Sites at interchanges fall into two or more categories, and some sites also get a "weather forecast" (storm clouds for MSN indicate the possibility of trouble ahead; the folk at YouTube need not worry – they have sunny skies coming their way). A number between 0.5 and 2.5 indicates IA's verdict on the website's current performance.
There are delights to be found by tracing your finger along the lines. Here are some of the most interesting lesser-known sites that the IA team has (literally) put on the map.
Why pay for the latest, expensive Windows software when you can use online applications for free? Log on to www.37signals.com for real-time group-chat, project-management, and organiser tools. The site is perfect for people in different offices who want to share files and work together on projects.
Want to read a better quality of blog? Visit www.9rules.com, an online community of blogs and bloggers made up of members who have been hand-picked to deliver their theories on life, the universe and, seemingly, everything in between; from religion and science through comics and commentary to design and photography.
This is a massive online art community where artists, photographers and writers can display their works and meet like-minded individuals. As of last month, www.deviantart.com had 4.5 million users and more than 40 million submissions. Cool features included downloadable "skins" – digital artworks that can be used to customise computer applications and devices.
It may focus on American news, but for current-affairs junkies, www.memeorandum.com is a must-click. It auto-generates a news summary every five minutes, drawing on experts and pundits, insiders and outsiders, media professionals and amateur bloggers, providing links to interesting stories from across the web.
Looking for an alternative to YouTube? This could be a lucrative one. Last year, the site announced its Producer Rewards programme, where users are paid for posting their original content. If the video has a rating of 3 or higher, the site (at www.metacafe.com) pays $5 (£2.50) for every 1,000 views an item gets, after the first 20,000 views.
Billed as "news for nerds", www.slashdot.org has stories on every science, science fiction, and technology-related topic under the sun – or the three moons of Tatooine. Subscribers can add stories and commentaries which are moderated by online editors on this long-running site.
Find the web's finest sites, sights and more at www.stumbleupon.com, a site devoted to recommending the best of the World Wide Web. As well as getting advice on what's cool in the virtual world, users can contact like-minded "stumblers" and rate online images, animations, films and video games.
This is the website of Tina Roth Eisenberg, a Swiss designer based in New York. Her site, www.swissmiss.typepad.com is a "visual archive" of cool products, pictures and objects that are eye-catching or thought-provoking in some way. Current cool stuff includes a post on the next generation of online shorthand, and a write-up of a Google Earth flight simulator.