What would the world be like if Apple, Google were countries.
In the offline world, geography is everything. You can only buy what’s in front of you, only talk to someone who is in the same room. On the Internet, however, the physical distance is insignificant. What matters in online communication is not where you are, but the platforms and services you use.
This is what Randall Munroe of xkcd meant with his 2007 and 2010 tries to map the online communities of the world. The Economist last year attempted to integrate the hardware and e-commerce giants into a technology world game of thrones. But perhaps the most painstakingly detailed drawing to date comes from a Slovak artist named Martin Vargic, who posted on deviantart.com what he presents as the first map of its kind on such a scale. Here is, “the Internet. “
Double click to enlarge the interactive map above. Click and hold to drag.
Of course, no map can do justice to the complex relationships between sites, services, and entities as diverse as Google, Cisco, QQ, and BitTorrent. But for tech nerds, the map presents an infinitely fascinating scheme for comparing and making connections between the various entities that make up the online world. And while the potential quibbles are plentiful, the sheer number of things this card achieves is staggering.
One immediate idea is that there is enough pornography on the web to fill its entire continent. On some level, we know this, but the media tends to ignore it, to the point that it’s rather shocking to see names like Xhamster and LiveJasmin etched on countries right in front of Google and YouTube.
The nation states in the internet map are not represented precisely to scale, but it does take into account their Alexa ranking, so one can easily see which kingdoms are the United States and China from the internet. and what are Tuvalu and Luxembourg. A real-world dichotomy reflected in the internet map is the concept of an Old World and a New World, with AOL, Microsoft, HP and IBM making up a sort of Europe online, while Google, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest form a virtual North America. And while it’s hard to say if it’s voluntary, it seems appropriate that Google Plus doesn’t appear to have any significant cities, although it does appear to be trying to annex Google Hangouts to neighboring Gmail. (Hold on, Gmail! We’re backing you!)
One mistake that must be corrected immediately is the apparent omission of Slate, which I could not find on the map despite the presence of some smaller media sites like the Daily beast. Fortunately, a note at the bottom assures us that this map is a work in progress, and will be updated and improved over time. (The creator invites supporters to donate via Indiegogo or purchase a copy of the card on Zazzle.com.) A bigger – and less provincial – complaint is that the map does not yet reflect the rapidly growing size and influence of sites and platforms based in the non-English-speaking world, with the exception of QQ and a few other. Still, it’s a great way to waste time, which, if I’m correct, is a big part of why we all built this online world in the first place.