Geography of data

Posted March 18, 2011

by Lensyl Urbano

OK. For someone like me this map is just ridiculously addictive. Produced by Revolver Maps, it shows the locations of everyone who’s visited the Muddle since March 5th (2011). If you click on the map it will take you to their page where you can find out more about the locations of all those dots.

The points on the map are a fascinating result of a combination of population distribution, language, technologic infrastructure (and wealth), and the miscellaneous topics on which I post.

Hits on the Muddle (blue circles) after two days, overlayed on a population density map of the U.S.. (Population density map from the USDA).

Overlaying at the location of hits after two days, on a population density map of the U.S. shows the obvious: the more people there are, the more likely it is that someone would stumble upon my blog. The eastern half of the U.S. with its higher populations are well represented, as is the west coast, while the hits in between come from the major population centers.

The pattern of hits from Australia shows very precisely that the major population centers are along the coast and not in the arid interior.

Map showing the hits on the Muddle (March 5-7) from Africa versus population density.

Africa, however, tells a much different story. The large population centers are along the equatorial belt of sub-Saharan Africa. But even now, there are very few if any hits from that region. I suspect that’s largely because of language and lack of access to the internet. The Muddle is not exactly the most popular on the internet, so it probably takes a lot of people on computers for a few to find their way to it. Contrast sub-Saharan Africa to South Africa, which is relatively wealthy, uses English as its lingua franca (working language), and has seen at least a few people hit the Muddle.

Members of the Commonwealth of Nations. Most of these countries were once part of the British Empire. (Image from Wikimedia Commons User:Applysense.)

Language also plays in big role in the pattern of hits from Europe and Asia. There are many English speakers in western Europe, a very high population density, and so a lot of hits, but the British Isles, as might be expected, are particularly well represented. Similarly in Asia, the members of the Commonwealth are show up disproportionately.

From the middle east, there have been a several hits from the wealthy small states like Bahrain and Qatar, but also a number from Egypt. The Egyptian interest in particular seems to stem from my posts on the recent revolution. No-one from that part of the world has commented on any of it so far, so I have no idea if they find the posts positive, negative, indifferent or whatever. I’d be curious to find out, since even negative feedback is important.

On the note of current events, my post on the plate tectonics of the earthquake in Japan has engendered quite a number of hits, and some positive feedback in the comments section and via email (one from a Japanese reader). In the week since the earthquake more than half the hits to the Muddle have been to that post, largely because it’s been popping up on the front page of the Google search for “plate tectonics earthquake Japan”.

Recent visitors to the Muddle on March 15th, 5:00 AM.

It has been fascinating seeing people from so many different countries hitting my blog. Since most don’t comment, or drop me a note, blogging often feels quite lonely, like I’m just talking to myself. Self-reflection was the original purpose for this blog, and I find that combining writing and graphics really works for me as a way of expressing myself.

Yet, this blog would not be public if I did not have an insatiable urge to share. So thanks for reading, and don’t be afraid to comment. I am a Montessori middle school teacher after all, so I tend not to bite. Although, if you do try to post a comment and it doesn’t show up it may be because it got caught in my spam filter; there is a 1000:1 ratio of spam to legitimate comments so it’s hard for me to catch any mistakes. Sending me an email should fix that though.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2011. Geography of data, Retrieved November 21st, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

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