Here’s a mesmerizing depiction of the most popular sites on the web. It’s a collage of icons that represent each of the one million most popular websites. I’d call this representation an “iCollage”, but Apple might sue me. The size of icon in this collage represents the relative popularity of the site, based on the number of hits it accrued during the year, as measured by the analytics company Alexa. The image was created by The Nmap Project, makers of the popular computer systems scanning tool Nmap, which helps system administrators identify the computers connected to their networks and the services running on them.
As the accompanying article explains, the image is 5 gigapixels in size. That means it is 1,000 times bigger than the typical photo that an inexpensive smartphone camera takes when printed at full size. The developers collected the icons that appear next to the url of each site in a browser’s address bar – so-called “favicons” – and sized them according to their relative popularity. The smallest icons are only 16 pixels wide by 16 pixels tall. The largest one, Google, which is the most popular site on the web, is approximately 19,850 pixels wide by 19,850 pixels tall. Of course, in the initial view, you see all the icons scaled to a size so that even the behemoth image that represents Google takes up only a small section of the page. You can use your mouse wheel or the zoom controls in the top left corner of the screen to zoom in and out, and you can click and drag the image to pan left or right. As you let the mouse hover over an icon, you’ll see the address for that site. Click it, and you’ll be taken there.
Try it out. It’s actually kinda fun.