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Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Facebook: mapping earth

There are six degrees of separation, so they say, and the world is an intricate web of mothers, husbands, colleagues, cousins, friends, enemies, frenemies. But this we're-all-the-earth's-children hippy talk of all being 'connected' is turned on it's tie-dye bandana-adorned head when searching through facebook and finding the right name, a similar face (but the picture's so small, I'm just. not. sure.) and to top it off, no mutual friends.

That is, until now. You may not feel connected to the rest of the world through your photo tags and wall posts and stalking the guy that you're inconveniently in love with, but an intern at Facebook has spent an undisclosed (obscenely large) amount of time poring over data to create this map of the world through Facebook's eyes, forcing you to admit that actually, we are a pretty snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug close knit family unit.

by Paul Butler (intern), crucial cog in the Facebook machine

Each line connects cities with pairs of friends, with brighter lines sprouting from the cities with the most pairs of friends.

Paul said of his digital creation:
"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."
You'll notice that large chunks of the Earth appear to be missing, such as China and most of rural Africa, and this is because Facebook hasn't quite permeated into the pores of their very existence yet...but give it time.

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