The Art of the Internet Universe

A computer-generated visualization depicts a frozen moment in the Internet universe.

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Young Hyun and Bradley Huffaker/Cooperative Association
for Internet Data Analysis/SDSC

This computer-generated visualization depicting a frozen moment in the Internet universe is part of a special exhibit at New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). The image was created by Young Hyun and Bradley Huffaker, researchers with the San Diego Supercomputing Center's Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA), an independent research group that investigates both the practical and theoretical aspects of the Internet. Hyun generated the image using a visualization tool he created that enables researchers to view large data sets using 3-D "hyperbolic geometry"—a form of image distortion that resembles the view through a fish-eye lens. It depicts round-trip times of data packets sent from a Web site in Herndon, Va., to hundreds of thousand of nodes on the Internet and back again.

The exhibit, Design and the Elastic Mind, highlights the dramatic changes in what once were some of the most-established dimensions of human life: time, space, matter, and individuality. "Working across several time zones, traveling with relative ease between satellite maps and nanoscale images, gleefully drowning in information, acting fast in order to preserve some slow downtime, people cope daily with dozens of changes in scale," the show's Web site says.

The showing focuses on successful translations of "disruptive innovation," as well as reflections on the future responsibilities of design, including the ever-changing dynamics of the Internet, which along with the vast abundance of digital data has revolutionized how we access and share information while at the same time stretch our minds to adapt to and embrace these changes.

Design and the Elastic Mind opened in February and runs through May 12, 2008. It is supported by NTT DoCoMo, Inc. and Patricia Phelps de Cisneros with additional funding is provided by The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art.

Most of CAIDA's support is provided by the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency.

—Jan Zverina/San Diego Supercomputing Center

This report is provided by the National Science Foundation, an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering, in partnership with U.S. News and World Report.