Mapping social networks isn’t anything new, but I find this lovely map of Facebook users in the BBC to be incredibly striking. First, because it’s obviously beautiful. Second, because you can use it as a proxy for the digital divide. The map details connections between friends on Facebook with the bright points at the end being conjoined pairs of friends. The spidery lines are the connections between those pairs. It’s pretty striking that it creates a pretty good replica of a map of the Earth. However, there are clear missing points, most notably lower population and lower wealth places. China is the really interesting hole because of their restrictions and not because of wealth or population. It would be really interesting to look at a finer scale map with some demographic data on top of it. Are there places in even populated areas, such as the US, where Facebook just isn’t that popular?
Any of our long-time readers/listeners can tell you I’m a HUGE fan of offshore windfarms. I think they flat out just make the most sense for sustainable energy production. Apparently Google agrees with me. Google is funding a windfarm that is supposed to stretch from New Jersey to Virginia and generate enough power to light two million homes. They put up a bit over 1/3 the costs, but the article doesn’t say where the other 2/3rds of the money is coming. The power will be transmitted onshore via underwater cables. No word as of yet when it will go live.
OSPAR Commission has released a map showing the known locations where munitions where dumped following World War’s I and II. The way of thinking at the time was the safest way to get rid of all of those unexploded bombs, grenades, land mines, and whatnot was to toss it in the sea. The status report details the dangers present to current populations, especially fishermen. It’s a problem we don’t think about that often because it’s something that happened nearly between 60 to 95 years ago, but it still presents a very real danger.
The Atlantic Wire has a short piece about a series of maps by Eric Fischer detailing racial living in 40 of the largest US cities. Unfortunately the maps are stored on Flickr as flat files, so it’s hard to zoom in and around to see more detail. The basic method appears to get racial information down to the housing unit so it creates a point cloud of race within urban areas. The interesting point of this method is that most cities aren’t hard delineations of race but a much more interspersed picture, despite the example from Detroit The Atlantic Wire uses.
I’m a big fan of infographics, so much so that I sometimes find seeing spatial information organized in an non-spatial way (ie a map) to be the clearest way to communicate an idea. This infographic detailing average work week lengths and average vacation days is one of the ones I think really works. The combination of a typical ‘graph’ along with some cute graphics really makes the thing accessible. The data does have some holes, I think, because the ‘average work week’ seems to pull down a tad. I’m assuming part-time work is included. It’d also be interesting to see an economic variable in there, like GDP or per capita income. Does working harder and longer get your more money? And I have to admit, for all my talk about infographics, the next question I have is I’d like to see it on a map
In order to investigate the idea of a social archipelago, the notion that our cities are “fragmented islands of social activity separated by large areas dedicated to commercial workplaces, flows of vehicles, residential sprawl or industrial sites.” Anil Bawa Cavia analyzed more than a million Foursquare check-ins in a number of cities and mapped those data as points to create a series of social activity density maps, which he calls urbagrams. By looking at the resulting maps for cities such as New York, Paris, and London, we can get a picture of the spatial distribution of social activity through Foursquare, and see where social activity is clustered and how the patterns differ from city to city.
Several crafty types have created homemade moving compass wedding invitations for their weddings including a heirloom quality one made of recycled chip board, a super fun interactive one posted on Crafster with a great compass related poem, and some artistic hand drawn maps and compass invitations by Pier Gustafson. On the basic logistics side, many wedding sites are offering free wedding mapper tools to create wedding directions on-line or to insert into invitations such as a cute one from WeddingMapper, MapIcons which lets your replace standard Google icons with wedding related ones, and custom wedding maps by Natalie Michelle on Etsy. Of course there are a number of GIS people who have proposed spatially including Cathy & Brian’s heart shaped Finger Lakes, Leslie and Michael’s Street View proposal, and Derek & Kristen’s Garmand GPS proposal. I don’t personally know any of these people but congratulate them and offer my own compass related quote, “Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery”.
Alright, I admit I stretched a bit for that headline. However, the important bit is that Facebook has now added Places to it’s features. Places allow you to tag where you’re at when you post status updates. On the benign side of the coin (that’s the Harvey Dent one for you DC nerds reading), this will allow a richer connection between people’s status and their location. You’ll be able to start getting a good feel for what places drive your friend’s positive or negative status. There’s an associated iPhone update their iPhone app that automatically tags your location, should you opt into using Places. Otherwise, you can ‘tag’ your location manually if your phone does not support LBS. On the malignant side of the coin (Two Face side), this raises a whole host of privacy concerns. Cyberstalking isn’t anything new, but the ‘scale’ of the problem given the popularity of Facebook just got a whole lot worse, I think. On top of that, make sure you’re not updating Facebook status during ‘work’ time when you’re actually at the local watering hole. Your boss might be able to find that information out and use it against you. We already have plenty of reports of companies using Facebook updates and information against employees. Take the warnings of Google’s boss Eric Schmidt – be careful what you put on the Internet! You don’t want to have to change your name every couple dozen years to cover up past online sins.
It’s been in several news sources, but I think ArsTechnica does the best job of discussing the issue. The short of it is that thousands of people are still without access to broadband in the US. The most interesting thing for me is that, when you get down to it, this is all a geography question. The initial report from 1999 basically listed a county as having access if a single person had access. The new method says that 1% of the population in the county has to have access to count, which is still a fairly loose metric. However, even that one change made the report conclude the US is failing compared to even a decade ago. Not this concerns access, not subscription, which is a critique some on the FCC have made about the report. In addition to the geographic change, the FCC bumped up the standards that are now considered “broadband” (a welcome and long needed change, in my opinion). That also is not without controversy from critics. What I find oddly lacking in the reports I’m reading about the FCCs conclusion is a comparative international component. The fact of the matter is that when the US is compared with most other industrialized countries, access, speed, cost per megabit, and adoption are sorely lacking. Perhaps that should be factored into evaluating the US’s success in broadband deployment (or perhaps it shouldn’t – please discuss in the comments if you’re itching to give an opinion!)
Or so people believe, studies show. Wired News is reporting a couple of experimental studies that suggest people think “North” is a harder route to travel than “South”, even when moving in a fairly localized area. The perception, apparently, is that North is uphill and South is downhill. On trips to North Carolina, when I was a boy, my father would joke the trip back would take longer because it’s uphill all the way. Apparently, his joke was more indicative of people’s perceptions than he knew. Both of these studies use experimental situations. It would be interesting to take real world travel information and see if people moving around in the real world actually behave the way the experiments suggest. If you ask me, this says more about geography and spatial knowledge in the US than anything else. It shows we need more spatial education!