Whether Julian Assange should be considered as a Hero (by publishing information) or Terrorist is an open question. Because of threats from governments, companies in the USA started to ban payment, hosting and dns services to Wikileaks. Soon Wikileaks moved from servers based in the USA to Sweden/Switzerland.
For now Wikileaks seem to be safe, however, they also started a call for mirrors.
Interested to see which people in the world are supporting Wikileaks, I had the idea to visualize the Wikileaks mirrors on Google Earth.
* update 09-12-2010 8pm CET *
– Added Google Earth web plugin links
* update 23-12-2010 10pm CET *
– Embedded Google Earth web plugin in demo section
In order to get the data, I went to the official Wikileaks website which had all mirrors listed on this page: mirrors. I wrote a small PHP script that would open up the mirror page and scanned the document for URLs. If a mirror was found, it would be stored in a file. At this moment there are about 1334 mirrors on the website.
At this point I only have the URLs of the mirrors, but how do I know where these servers are located?
In order to know where the server is located, I used GeoLite City which is a service from MaxMind. GeoLite City allows you to resolve most IPs to a geospatial location. Of course it doesn’t gives the exact location, but usually it is able to show in which City the server is located, which is good enough for my purpose.
After obtaining the GeoLite City database (there is a free version!) I used PHP to write a script that would first resolve the URL to an IP address (PHP function: gethostbyname() ) and then use this IP address to look up the longtitude and latitude.
The last step was converting the data into the KML format (and adding some artificial altitude information) for use with Google Earth.
Below are some of the early results.
Currently the main server (http://126.96.36.199) seem to be located in Sweden, when we view the data in Google Earth we can see that a lot of mirrors are actually located in Europe.
Red pin: Wikileaks server
Yellow pins: Wikileaks mirrors
Greenlines: Connections from the Wikileaks server to a Wikileaks mirror
Since some of the servers are at the same location (probably sharing the same data center), we can click on a pin and it will expand to show all mirrors located at this data center.
Screencast / Video
Short screencast (Watch it in HD 720p, in fullscreen mode)
To view this demo you will need to install the Google Earth Browser Plug-in
Want to try it out locally on your computer?
No problem! Here is how: