Following up on our earlier post about the Tokyo subway map, the Information Architects Web Trends Startpage is a clever mashup of the subway map metaphor with the standard start-page. Authors of this map have manually categorized and located some of the web’s most popular sites into color-coded lines and stations. Especially interesting is the “inner loop” of sites that represent the authors’ favorite sites.
We could compare this site to other start pages such as My Yahoo! or iGoogle, or the built-in thumbnail views provided by Google Chrome and Safari 4. Against these competitors, the IA Startpage wins points for the sheer quantity of sites it can display in one screen, and its memorable composition makes muscle-memory point-and-click painless. On the other hand, the IA Startpage is probably not useful on a daily basis for most people, since it is tailored specifically to the needs of its creators.
On the whole we greatly appreciate this artistic portrait of the web and its attempt to bring order to a chaotic landscape. IA provides an interactive version of this map with clickable links, and also has PDF and hi-res JPEG formats available for download, and a poster version of the map is for sale.
There exist a number of subway-map algorithms that have the potential capacity to translate a arbitrary graph structure—such as the web—into a visual map. Maybe the next iterations of this map will include such algorithms, allowing users to generate custom maps of their personal stomping grounds.
note: XKCD has also published a map of the web focused on online communities.