The World According to Facebook

A brilliant data visualization illustrating Facebook’s global reach was making the online rounds recently. The illuminated parts are where Facebook’s 500 million-plus users are located worldwide. Check it:

The best thing about this is that it was created by a FB intern, so apparently awesomeness is among the qualifications required to do unpaid work there. The intern, Paul Butler (no relation, though I wish there were), wrote the following about his handiwork.

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.

One of my favorite websites for infographic geekery, Flowing Data, points out that the dark zones map out a kind of online Iron Curtain where other social networks are dominant. RenRen‘s got a lock on China (or probably the other way around), while India’s on the Google-powered Orkut and Russia has the vaguely sinister-sounding Vkontakte.

I love the idea of introducing these other nets into my story somehow. In Dead Souls, Gogol’s main character gets pissed when he’s going over the lists of souls he’s bought and discovers that one of the sellers slipped in a few women (earnings parity being even worse back in 1842 than it is today). I’m thinking the anti-hero of Dead SULs may find he’s mistakenly purchased accounts from some non-Facebook social networks – especially the Russian one, which creates a nice resonance with the original work.

In the meantime, I need to go create a profile for James Bond on Vkontakte.

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