A Facebook intern named Paul Butler has put together a remarkable map of Facebook connections between cities, countries, and continents around the globe. The resulting view is stunning, and really goes to show how interconnected many parts of the planet have become… and how much room there still may be to go in others.
It wasn’t a one-click-and-done approach, either. Paul’s blog entry on the subject shares the various steps he took to refine the approach, in detail that is only meaningful to geeks and statisticians. Ultimately though, he seems up the discovery quite well, revealing what happened after his final major adjustment:
After a few minutes of rendering, the new plot appeared, and I was a bit taken aback by what I saw. The blob had turned into a surprisingly detailed map of the world. Not only were continents visible, certain international borders were apparent as well. 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 travelling, a family member abroad, or an old college friend pulled away by the various forces of life.
Just for kicks, check out a very similar map, compiled by the folks at NASA to show the Earth at night:
I don’t want to hear anyone scoff the next time I proclaim that Facebook is taking over the world. (Now if we could just get a map of iPhone usage around the world…)