Icons of the Web

December 18, 2013: The Nmap Project is pleased to release our new and improved Icons of the Web project! Since our free and open source Nmap Security Scanner software is all about exploring networks at massive scale, we started by scanning the top million web sites for 2013 (as ranked by the analytics company Alexa). We then downloaded each site's favicon—the small icon displayed next to a site title in browser bookmarks and tabs.

We scaled the icons in proportion to each site's monthly reach (popularity) and placed them in a giant collage. The smallest icons—for sites visited by only 0.00004% of the Internet population each month—are 256 pixels square (16x16). The largest icon (Google) is 394 million pixels. The whole collage is 5 gigapixels.

This is an update to a similar project we performed in 2010. That edition proved very popular. It was written up in the New York Times and other sites, exhibited at the Newseum in Washington D.C., and even found its way into the Guinness Book of World Records (see the press section for more). It is interesting to compare the new data with the old to see how the Internet has evolved in recent years.

Since your web browser would likely choke on a 5 gigapixel image, we've created the interactive viewer below. It's divided into 813,200 small files which are only loaded as needed based on your location and zoom level. Click and drag to pan and use the mouse wheel (or toolbar) to zoom. For mouse wheel zoom, you may need to interact with the viewer first (e.g. drag something). A new feature this year allows you to hover your mouse over an icon to see the site name. You can also click on icons to visit the actual sites, but be careful with that! Even sites with cute icons (like the cartoon Hamster) can be pornographic or worse. We have also added a fullscreen viewing option.

To find your favorite site (or your own site), type in the domain name (example: reddit.com) and hit search.

Interactive Viewer

Comparison to Favicon 2010

Our 2010 Favicon Project was a huge success and that data is still fully browseable here. The Internet's competitive ecosystem is always evolving, and these three years saw dramatic changes. In the social networking and blogging worlds, Myspace, Orkut, and Hi5 collapsed to nearly nothing, while Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter gained ground. Pinterest, Tumblr, Sina Weibo, and Instagram quickly rose from nothing into dominant forces. In search, Google, and Ask improved while Yahoo suffered. Chinese search engine Baidu/Hao123 grew significantly after Google shut down its Chinese service. In media, Youtube gained ground while the pirate sites Megaupload, MegaVideo and Rapidshare jumped the plank. Finally, in e-commerce, Amazon, eBay, and China's Tmall/TaoBao gained ground. Almost all the top gainers were American or Chinese companies. The following tables display the biggest winners and losers. A change entry such as “6.9 to 20.6%” means the site (Yahoo) dropped 6.9 percentage points from 27.5% to 20.6% reach.

Top Percentage Point Gainers Since 2010
 Facebook14.8 to 43.8%
 Youtube9.4 to 32.8%
 Baidu4.3 to 12.6%Chinese search engine
 Amazon3.9 to 7.4%
 Google Hong Kong3.8 to 3.9%Due to redirection after Google China shutdown
 Google3.8 to 45.8%
 QQ2.9 to 8.4%Chinese chat/blogging/social service
 LinkedIn2.9 to 4.9%
 Hao1232.7 to 3.2%Chinese web directory
 Twitter2.7 to 7.4%
 Sina Weibo2.5 to 2.5%Chinese microblogging
 Pinterest2.3 to 2.3%
 Tumblr2.2 to 2.6%
 AVG1.9 to 2.1%Antivirus
 Paypal1.7 to 2.3%
 Taobao1.5 to 5.0%Chinese shopping/auctions
Top Percentage Point Losers Since 2010
 MSN7.9 to 4.9%Most services moved to other MS domains
 Windows Live7.9 to 9.3%Closed in April 2013
 Yahoo!6.9 to 20.6%
 Myspace3.7 to 0.3%Dead social network
 Google China3.1 to 0.9%Shut down to fight censorship
 RapidShare3.0 to 0.2%
 Yahoo! Japan1.5 to 3.5%
 MegaVideo1.4 to 0.0%Raided and shut down by police
 Doubleclick1.3 to 0.2%Integrated into Google
 Hi51.3 to 0.1%Dead social network
 Microsoft1.2 to 3.4%
 Orkut1.2 to 0.1%Dead social network
 LiveJasmin1.2 to 2.0%Pornographic webcams
 Flickr1.2 to 1.2%
 Photobucket1.1 to 0.4%
 MegaUpload1.1 to 0.0%Raided and shut down by police

Visual Comparison

Perhaps this visual comparison is the best way to demonstrate the changes:

Printed Poster

Many people asked for a printed poster so we created one through Kickstarter. They have all sold out, but we might do a new poster (with new data) in a future year. You may leave your here to be notified first if we do a new poster:

Email address (used only to contact you about posters)
Country (for shipping cost estimate)

If nothing else, this poster is a great lesson in humility. My sites may seem big and important to me, but when placed in perspective of the whole Internet, I need a magnifying glass to show people Nmap.org on the poster.

Press and Popular Culture Appearances

The 2010 and 2013 editions of Icons of the Web have been very well received in the press and popular culture (museums, books, etc.):


If you have any questions, feel free to mail Fyodor. I'll add the common ones to this section.

Why are some sites not found?
There are a few possible causes. First, the site may not have been among the top million at the time the survey was done. Check the data file (7zip-compressed) to see if it was present. Second, the site may have changed its icon since the survey was done. This page downloads the current icon of the site you type in, and looks up its hash in a database. Failing that, it will look up the site name in the database, but that only works if you use the exact same name we did when doing the survey. Third, it's possible that the site timed out or didn't have an icon at the time of the survey. Fourth, this page limits the size of the icons it will download. If an icon file is too big, it won't be found.
I've got a creative idea for creating a derivative work! How do I request permission and obtain high resolution files?
Please mail Fyodor. We granted permission for people to use the 2010 edition in numerous ways, including exhibiting at The Newseum and printing a wall-sized version for a corporate boardroom.
Didn't you already do this a few years ago? What's the big deal about this update?
Besides rescanning the Internet for the newest data, we updated our interactive viewer to actually identify icons as you hover your mouse over them. You can also click to visit the site. And we're excited about the new printed poster option. The full-screen viewer is new, and scrolling performance is much improved. We have also grown the collage from 1.4 gigapixels to 5 gigapixels. For comparison, just take a look at the old version.
Why doesn't it identify the very small icons when I hover my mouse over them?
For performance reasons, we don't load all of that information at once. Zoom in further and you can identify even the smallest of icons by hovering.
Why are some of the large icons so pixelated while others are so smooth?
Favicon files use the Windows ICO format which allows an icon to be specified in multiple sizes. Almost every site includes a 16x16 icon since that's what browsers typically use in the URL and tab bars. Some sites include higher resolution icons as well, and we use the largest one in the file. 16x16 icons look very pixelated when zoomed. Of course we could find higher resolution icons for the likes of Facebook and Google, but we choose to show the actual favicons, pixelation and all. For comparison, the Facebook favicon is 16x16 while the Reddit icon looks smoother because they use 256x256.
Who is the unsung hero behind all of this?
Even though many of the pictures on this page are of me (Fyodor), David Fifield initially came up with the idea and did more of the hard coding work. This project would never have happened without his tremendous help!