You know I love using social networking—pretty obvious since I put myself out there as a blogger, huh??? I have a son who does social media work for his job and I have always seemed to gravitate toward social networking sites and love the idea of connecting with people. I love to get comments on my blog—hence why I do giveaways and encourage others to comment. It doesn’t have to be anything profound or life changing but I love to read the comments of what people think of what I write about or post pictures about.
Facebook is one of those places that I got sucked into years ago when my sister was in seminary. She kept telling me that I should get an account and I thought it was silly for a grown woman to use something that was really, in my humble opinion, something for high school and college kids. Well, almost 400 friends later …here I am! I have loved getting rec0nnected with high school friends! I have even found my best friend from 1st grade which is not a small feat considering we grew up in Ohio and now live in totally different states! I have college friends, Navy days friends, Australian friends, family, friends of family…the list goes on. I change my status, post pictures and keep up to date on things with others. One of the neatest things that I have experienced in the past months with Facebook is how a prayer request can go viral! As many of you know I have a good friend, Tom, who was very very sick. Things were looking gloomy, to put it mildly, and the Facebook community, near and far, reached out in prayer and support and a miracle occurred. I don’t think Tom will ever be able to realize how many people were praying for him—people who were strangers but felt his friends’ pain and sadness on his illness lifted him up in prayer and the miracle of healing occurred.
Do I waste time on Facebook? Of course I do! Family Feud has become an obsession almost and Chris has to wait until the round is over before he can ask me a question. No joke. I compete with my friend Jen for the high score of the week! I know–I know–it is horrible! But addictive.
So this morning I read an article about the impact of Facebook and friendship on DailyGood which came from MSNBC. The map above will be explained in the article by
Athima Chansanchai. I found this such an interesting article and yes…maybe I am trying to justify the time I spend on Facebook but I don’t think it is all bad!! It’s all about relationships and you know–that is really the crux of my life–realizing and nurturing relationships. They are so important!!! Enjoy and let me know what you think!
With 500 million users, Facebook is as big as the population of the European Union.
So a Facebook intern has devised a visual way to interpret at least one aspect of all the potential data in so many users: “the locality of friendship.”
Paul Butler, an intern on Facebook’s data infrastructure engineering team, took it upon himself to use R, an open-source environment for statistical computing and graphics. He explained his jumping point this way:
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. I began by taking a sample of about ten million pairs of friends from Apache Hive, our data warehouse. I combined that data with each user’s current city and summed the number of friends between each pair of cities. Then I merged the data with the longitude and latitude of each city.
Butler plotted points at some of the latitude and longitude coordinates and came up with a rough outline of the world. He plotted lines between the points. A “big white blob” appeared in the center of his map, and while some of the outer edges shared a vague resemblance to continents, it soon became apparent that he had “too much data to get interesting results just by drawing lines.” Other graphing techniques also went down the drain: semi-transparent lines, too many shades of color.
He explains how he reached his desired effect:
I defined weights for each pair of cities as a function of the Euclidean distance between them and the number of friends between them. Then I plotted lines between the pairs by weight, so that pairs of cities with the most friendships between them were drawn on top of the others. I used a color ramp from black to blue to white, with each line’s color depending on its weight. I also transformed some of the lines to wrap around the image, rather than spanning more than halfway around the world.
The desired effect: No longer a blob, but this detailed map of the world seen above, including continents and some borders. Butler couldn’t help but be effusively sentimental about what he saw.
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.
Butler replaced the lines with circle arcs, which are the shortest routes between two points on the Earth.
I still can’t wrap my head around all this, but the image is a gorgeous rendering of one way Facebook interprets friendships: points of light. That, I can definitely understand and agree with.
Or, the way Butler sees it: “It’s not just a pretty picture, it’s a reaffirmation of the impact we have in connecting people, even across oceans and borders.”
What’s it mean to you?