IPSpace is an interactive visualization of the IPv4 internet address space. It emerged out of research done at Oculus and was exhibited in the visualization art gallery at the 2006 IEEE InfoVis conference.

IPSpace is constructed by taking the number line of IPv4 addresses, and folding it using a space-filling curve according to how those addresses are allocated. The result is a visually intuitive map providing insight into basic aspects of the Internet such as size, ownership, and geographic distribution.

Networks are colored according to the regional registry responsible for their allocation:

  • Africa red
  • Asia-Pacific green
  • Europe yellow
  • Latin America turquoise
  • North America blue

IPSpace could render the address space using either a Hilbert (square) or Sierpinski (triangular) space filling curve. In these images you can see the number line of addresses winding through the network areas:
current0top SierpinskiTopN
(Blue on black?! What was I thinking!)

I acquired the data for IPSpace by making requests to the various regional internet registries. As you navigated the app by zooming into a network of interest it would load the next level of allocations either from a local database or from the appropriate registry. As networks zoomed into view they would be replaced by their subnetworks showing the next level of the hierarchy.

Here you can see network allocations further down the hierarchy. Things get messier as you go further down.

HNLgrey SierpinskiZoom1NL

At any point you could hover your mouse over a network to see the WHOIS information on that particular network (basically who owns it). Eventually you’d zoom in until there were no further sub-allocations and it would render all the addresses in the assigned networks as dots.


Historical Internet Growth

Here are some images depicting the internet in 2002, 2004 and 2006. Notice especially the growth of Europe and Asia 2002-4 and the first noticeable presence of Africa in 2006. (Click through for a larger image.)


Related Work

Since creating IPSpace many others have used similar techniques for rendering the internet. Shortly after showing IPSpace at InfoVis 2006, Randall Munroe published a popular hand drawn version. A quick search will yield many others.

Source Code

IPSpace ran as a desktop Java application using Processing as the rendering engine. The code is available under a BSD license at https://github.com/thatcort/ipviz. If you decide to do anything with it, I’d be curious to hear about it.

Published: February 4, 2017