July 6, 2011

The UnFacebook World


The above map depicts an significant new geopolitical boundary: being inside and outside of Facebook. Over the last few centuries maps have focused on dividing territory into the administrative units of countries. Newer spatial realities, however, are driven by the flow or inhibition of information. One's physical location is just a single variable in the multitude of virtual projections possible in the networked world. Although the country borders may still be highly controlled, the movement of thoughts and ideas follow more fluid paths.

The UnFacebook World Map is a remix of two popular images: NASA's Earth at Night, and Facebooks' Friendship Map. By subtracting the Facebook map from the NASA one, we end up with a new kind of tension between two zones: the ancient technologies of situated human settlement (rendered visible by electric light) and disembodied electronic communication.

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The UnFacebook World Map was originally posted on my blog in July 2011 and has since been featured in The Atlantic, FlowingData, visua.ly, Business Insider, MetaFilter and Curiosity Counts.

22 comments :

Flungingpictures Pkt said...

I can't believe that the US of A & EU have so few FB users, and China so many.
I have an alternate one created by someone else I'll upload it to my FB pafe.
Flungingpictures Pkt

Flungingpictures Pkt said...

Try this:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150305008593824&set=a.93751383823.107343.682823823&type=1&theater

Ian Wojtowicz said...

You didn't fully read my post. I subtracted the image you linked to above from the Earth at Night. The black areas in my map are the Facebook areas.

Look again.

Soumya Dasgupta said...

how exactly do you subtract a map from the other?

Ian Wojtowicz said...

Using a Photoshop difference layer.

Zoltan Grossman said...

This is a great idea, to compare the Facebook usage map to NASA's "Earth at Night" map. The darkest areas are those that are using Facebook, and the light dots are cities not using Facebook.

Glenn said...

Amazing! What made you think of this?

Ian Wojtowicz said...

I saw the Facebook map and realized that it was impressive, but like many data visualizations, told you very little useful information. By overlaying it with the NASA map, we can see more context.

Marco Berrocal said...

Well it's to be expected. It's pretty much a break down of how developed some regions of the world are as far as technology. It's pretty much the America's, Europe, Oceania and some parts of Asia. South Africa is the only country I see with some usage

Ian Wojtowicz said...

Good point. It might be interesting to subtract technologically-underdeveloped cities and see where people could use Facebook, but don't.

Anonymous said...

It's not exactly about "developed" vs. undeveloped. Why is India black but Russia lit up? It's also or instead about language and political barriers. For one thing Facebook is pretty US-centric. Furthermore there are some local alternatives in some of the lit up spots in this map. People in Brazil use Orkut instead. In Russia I don't know (Live journal?). In China Facebook is blocked anyway, and there are Chinese alternatives like qq. This map might match up more or less with a map showing English language proficiency actually (i.e. English as first or second language, or just "some English").

fool

Anonymous said...

http://www.dreamgrow.com/world-map-of-social-networks-2010/ specifically discusses India, Brazil, China, Russia and Japan.

fool

Anonymous said...

In Russia they use Vkontakte.ru, that's why Russian' urbanised region appear yellow.

Honk said...

North Korea:
No lights at night AND no facebook acitivity.

Scott Walker said...

This helps explain why I have so many Filipinos and Indonesians among my "game friends" (the ones I don't actually know offline).

Anonymous said...

How are there links from yellow cities to other yellow cities if they don't have facebook?

Ian Wojtowicz said...

They do have Facebook, but very few people use it.

Joseph B. said...

Strong correlation with Latin alphabet. And exceptions like India and North Africa tend to be places where the local language's writing system is non-Roman, but educated people are fluent in English or French.

teo said...

This seems to me pretty stupid. You get exactly the same information by just looking at the Facebook map, there's no need to combine it with the NASA map.

Sparrow said...

You can add one more area to this map - my house. I wouldn't touch Facebook with a ten-foot pole.

giantpanda said...

This merely shows "the world according to Facebook" - that is, in the places where Facebook does not bother to list a city, one can simply not exist on this map. A commenter on my blog pointed this out. For example, Facebook still refuses to add the capital of East Timor to its list, hence East Timor appears "Unfacebooked"

http://raiketak.wordpress.com/2011/11/14/unfacebooked-or-a-telcoms-monopoly-seen-from-space/#comment-146

claro mensajes said...

Amazing Ian.