11:27:17 Mapping the Ether, or the Topography
of a Webpage in Real Time

As stand-alones, computers don't do much. Fast calculations, sure, but when they connect to each other their functionality can leap by quantums. An ultimate power of networked computers is the World Wide Web.

[Sports Chosun]

What if we could see the Web in action? Fortunately, a graphical software tool shows these connected nodes, computer-to-computer. Written and released in 2000 by Juan Toledo for unix, Etherman does the job. In real time.

I have a version, EtherApe, running on my Linux box. It's some show to see what happens when you type in an URL and make the Web connections.

EtherApe looks at all those packets of information moving at fiber-optic speed and sniffs out the originating DNS signatures.

I visited Sports Chosun [http://sdprk.org.kp], a sports website in North Korea. Here's a screenshot of what it saw: Red shows my ISP 67.206.183.217 dial.eltopia.net connecting to 175.45.176.81. Who's that end node? A whois lookup says it's run by Star Joint Venture Co. Ltd. located in Ryugyong-dong Potong-gang District in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.

While in North Korea, I checked out another website: the Maritime Adminstration of Korea [http://ma.gov.kp]. Here's EtherApe's screenshot. Unlike the sports website with two nodes, this one has five different server addresses. Partly, it's website complexity. But what I found interesting were the DNS lookup locations for server registrants of each node.

Four of the five were registered outside North Korea. Specifically, Caracas, Venezuela; Russia [Karachay-Cherkess Republic]; Tokyo, Japan; and Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Physically, the servers might—or might not—be in North Korea. Connectivity of the Web means servers and their registrants can be anywhere.

Things got more complex when I came back to the States.

Here's what EtherApe shows for the US edition of The Guardian. Fully 13 servers involved in bringing me The Guardian online edition. Well, perhaps, only five are actually delivering content and DNS lookups point to Fastly Network Operations in the Bay Area.

But the other nodes? amazonaws probably offers cloud storage. But do facebook.com & akamaitechnology not track? And the four e100net nodes? None other than Empire Google.

In the reclusive kingdom of North Korea, a webster is not game for Big Data. Here it's different.

In the USA, tracking and selling your Web behavior & identity is de rigueur. Sadly, a bit of the original spirit of the Internet that's been lost.

Image credits: the author on linux mint 17.2


Read more ...
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Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection [and feel free to share with a friend] The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:

.mobi (Kindle)
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.pdf (for PCs)


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