A World Somewhat United


I ran into this image in my browsing yesterday.  Click on it and it should go to full size so that you can enjoy it in its full beauty.

It’s originally from an article entitled “The World According to Facebook“.  I’m really intrigued by visualizations that people use to describe data and this absolutely falls into that genre.  According to the article, this graphic shows the connections that people have made with their Facebook accounts.

I recall sitting in a university statistics class and a professor telling us that data is the ultimate story teller.  The context of his statement was statistics, to be sure, but he also indicated that good story tellers don’t tell you everything.  They lead you to the story and your mind/imagination/curiosity interprets the rest of the story.

As I look at the above visualization (I actually just typed “map” and decided to erase that in favour of visualization), I’m pondering the following:

  • Is this a visualization clearly showing wealth and the digital divide?
  • Is Facebook politically blocked by some countries?
  • Hawaii and New Zealand seem to be very well connected.
  • Do they not have internet or significant population in the middle of Australia?
  • Russia and China have huge populations but are not using Facebook to connect with the rest of the world.
  • Ditto for Brasil
  • Eastern North America and Europe areas are so well connected and populated.
  • In Canada, we celebrate diversity – how many of these connections are to families from the “old country”?
  • What sort of world infrastructure powers this?  Does it reach everywhere?
  • Let’s do some math and talk about why we’re running out of IP addresses.
  • Look at Iceland and Alaska.  Are they isolated?  Hmmm
  • and so much more.

I can’t help but think of the possibilities of using this visualization in a Computer Science class to discuss connectivity, in a Business class to discuss the successful business case of Facebook, or in a Social Studies class to discuss political and social issues.

It’s a spectacular visualization and presents more questions that beg answers and interpretation.  Isn’t that what good storytelling does?

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