Visualizing connectivity, civilization, readers of this blog

Wiggins @ Opposed Systems Design posted a graphic of “internet black holes” from Reporters without Borders (RSF) today. I thought it would be interesting to contrast the RSF imagery with some others, especially after I just had an email exchange with someone about connections to this blog from some surprising locations.

The RSF image, the top image below (see global image here), has a certain amount of synchronicity with the middle image (from NASA) of “civilization” around the world based on the assumption that light pollution visible from space indicates a technologically advanced society. RSF’s map ignores function in favor of media access. Regions with heavy telecommunications penetration are considered “black holes” because of government censorship with examples like Iran and China. However, RSF apparently believes Afghanistan, Somalia, and Yemen aren’t such backwaters, after all government censorship is absent, well so is any real substantive government in the region. Is internet connectivity in Aden really better than in China?

The bottom image is the ClustrMaps mapping of hits from Asia on MountainRunner YTD (1 Jan through 11 Jan 06). I seem to get a few hits from what the RSF calls darkness and what the NASA shows as civilization, examples: China and Iran. Interestingly, I also get hits from what I’d really call the wilderness, the Horn of Africa, but RSF says is a wonderful place of “internet connectivity”.

The title of their map is misleading. This isn’t a map of Les Trous Noirs du Web, it’s a map of government censorship, which is what the rollover text for Les Trous Noirs explain. This isn’t the first time they failed to fully contextualize the issue and go dramatic. Neat picture though, although I don’t buy it’s a real network map.

3 Replies to “Visualizing connectivity, civilization, readers of this blog”

  1. Excellent points. I ought to have noted that the green lines in the graphic have no meaning. They’re what Tufte would call “chartjunk.” And describing it as a map of “regions of government censorship” is more informative than calling it a map of “information black holes.”The folks at Coming Anarchy and tdaxp have all done exercises using geospatial data to map the Gap. This post summarizes some of their work:
    Also, Art Hutchinson had some great posts about actual network maps and single points of failure. His blog seems down right now, so here’s my post on the subject:
    good work,

  2. It’s not obvious that Aden would be doomed to poor Internet connectivity – it’s been a major submarine cable landing since there have been submarine cables. SMW-3 and FLAG go through there, off the top of my head.That says nothing about the local access networks, naturally, but there’s no reason you couldn’t get good connectivity for an ISP there.

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