Greg Niemeyer and the Internet from the Inside Out.

11 Jul, 2016

Greg Niemeyer and the Internet from the Inside Out.

This year the Berkeley Center for New Media offered four faculty research grants to seed ambitious academic projects in the field. Our alumni voted on the applications and awarded $5,000 to Greg Niemeyer to create radial visualizations of the internet from the inside out. Read more about the project below!

Niemeyer proposes to invent tools which distribute the benefits of data analysis as broadly as possible. To instead of making a flat map of an n-dimensional thing, he's chose to look at a network from its own perspective, from the inside out. Instead of a flat map, he proposes a radial map. Recent advances in immersive VR bring this approach within reach of smartphone users. The accessibility of large datasets with thousands of nodes is a critical step in the process of data democratization.

The research plan is to create such dynamic network visualizations in Unity3D, and to test them for experience value and legibility in user studies. Feedback from user studies will hammer out issues in dynamic network visualization until Niemeyer identify core principles of the immersive experience that can scale from a deck of playing cards (52 nodes) to the size of millions of nodes.

Niemeyer is planning two scenarios - “Barrow” will immerse viewers in the process of permafrost thawing in Barrow, Alaska. We’re expecting this data to carry about 10000 nodes. It will show the relentless and surprisingly complex process of permafrost thawing from a frozen state which lasted many thousand years as studied by Dr. Margaret Torn and her research team.

“Richmond” will immerse viewers in the internal state of a server farm that hosts the internet archive. This visualization would show, in real time, all network traffic to all assets of the archive. It can be deployed in mobile immersive VR such as Google Cardboard as well as in planetarium-style dome theaters. The visualization functions as a demonstration of possible radial perspective aesthetics.

Project partners are the Brown Institute for Media Innovation (, the Internet Archive (, and of course BCNM.

Image credit Greg Niemeyer, Barrow, AK.