Paul, an intern on Facebook’s data infrastructure engineering team, recently took a sample of about ten million pairs of friends from Facebook’s data warehouse and plotted out their relationships. The result? A stunningly beautiful map of the world.
Paul’s description of the process of creating this map is almost as dreamy as the image itself:
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.
It’s interesting to see that the density is a lot thicker in Midwest and East Coast compared to the West and Pacific region. Also, look at Indonesia! Unbelievably dense! I used to watch MTV Indonesia and they love to call themselves “Anak Nongkrong” which translates to “Social Groupies”. No wonder CNN calls it “The Twitter Nation”, and no wonder Blackberry smartphones, which allows free messaging, sell like hot cakes there.
The picture above is only 10 million data samples. Now how about repeating this process with all 500+ million individuals as data points, Paul? I’d like to see if the resulting image is still as lovely.