Politics, Technology, and Language

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought — George Orwell

This website as a graph

Posted by metaphorical on 4 January 2007

Okay, I guess this swept the net back in May, but I just saw it recently.

This is a representation of the HTML of this blog, in essence showing the extent to which it consists of links to other sites, image files, etc. (It’s not, as some say, “a representation of this blog, and all the blogs it is connected to.”)

Interconnected web

Color code:

blue: for links (the A tag)
red: for tables (TABLE, TR and TD tags)
green: for the DIV tag
violet: for images (the IMG tag)
yellow: for forms (FORM, INPUT, TEXTAREA, SELECT and OPTION tags)
orange: for linebreaks and blockquotes (BR, P, and BLOCKQUOTE tags)
black: the HTML tag, the root node
gray: all other tags

The author of the applet, Aharef, explains:

Everyday, we look at dozens of websites. The structure of these websites is defined in HTML, the lingua franca for publishing information on the web. Your browser’s job is to render the HTML according to the specs (most of the time, at least). You can look at the code behind any website by selecting the “View source” tab somewhere in your browser’s menu.

HTML consists of so-called tags, like the A tag for links, IMG tag for images and so on. Since tags are nested in other tags, they are arranged in a hierarchical manner, and that hierarchy can be represented as a graph. I’ve written a little app that visualizes such a graph, and here are some screenshots of websites that I often look at.

I find all visual representations beautiful, though their meaning isn’t ever clear until you see some examples. Sure enough, the page goes on to show graphs of the home pages of some major sites, such as Yahoo, MSN, CNN.

You can create your own here.


2 Responses to “This website as a graph”

  1. One thing I don’t understand though – I generated graphs for two sites while I was watching my apache logs, and as far as I can tell he doesn’t actually hit your web site while he’s generating the graph. He must use the google cache or something. Very odd.

  2. That’s weird, and I don’t know what to make of it. But I see the same thing—I just did another graph, looking at my SiteMeter logs before and after. (As it happens, for the 5-minute period in question, there’s no new visitors at all.)

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