Using the connections between friends on Facebook, Paul Butler, an intern Facebook has created a remarkable map of the world.
This one began with profile data from a scant 10 million people -- or about 2% of Facebook's users. Butler first tabulated the number of friends between each city, and what latitude and longitude each friend was at. Then, he created a color code: The more connections between two places, the lighter the line is; the fewer, the darker. What emerged, of course, is a map of the world unlike any other. That is, it's not a map of roads or internet connections or airplane routes -- but a map of human relationships. Our physical geography is simply an emergent quality.
As Butler writes:
What really struck me, though, was knowing that the lines didn't represent coasts or rivers or political borders, but real human relationships. Each line might represent a friendship made while traveling, a family member abroad, or an old college friend pulled away by the various forces of life... When I shared the image with others within Facebook, it resonated with many people. It's not just a pretty picture, it's a reaffirmation of the impact we have in connecting people, even across oceans and borders.
I'm really intrigued by the huge "dark spots" in the map. No Russia. No China.
What do you think this graph tells us?