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.