Mapping facebook friends: how they did it

How do you visualise a social phenomenon? Paul Butler at Facebook has just produced this visualisation of pairs of facebook friends around the world.

He says of the process:

Visualizing data is like photography. Instead of starting with a blank canvas, you manipulate the lens used to present the data from a certain angle… When the data is the social graph of 500 million people, there are a lot of lenses through which you can view it. One that piqued my curiosity was the locality of friendship. I was interested in seeing how geography and political borders affected where people lived relative to their friends. I wanted a visualization that would show which cities had a lot of friendships between them

It shows a map of the world with great holes in it: Russia, China, Africa and South America. Facebook is very much a western beast.

You can read more about how he did it here.

What do you think of it?

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