What do you get by crossing the web’s largest sites, its hot spots, with the Tokyo subway map? Answer: the Web Trend Map. Put together by Information Architects in Japan, the map analyses web traffic and throws the results onto a map of the Tokyo subway. The result, an extract from which is shown below [and fully downloadable here], is a fantastic visualization of the web. Major web sites, such as Google, appear as key subway stations and are located on particular lines based on the associations between each of the web sites (so, for example, there’s a media line, a social networking line, etc.).
Now it needs to be said here that attempts to map the web aren’t all that new. Work on and beyond the influential book, Atlas of Cyberspace, by geographers Martin Dodge and Rob Kitchin, led to neat visualizations such as the one displayed below, which shows the (uneven) geography (particularly the south-eastern concentration) of ownership of blocks of the internet in Britain.
Still, the approach taken by Information Architects is novel. And it confirms (along with all the other geo-visualization technologies around today) the continued importance of geographic and cartographic awareness and skills. Maps, put simply, are essential communication tools.
Now, could someone please use data on internet traffic in Ireland and map it all onto the network maps for Dart, Iarnród Éireann, or Dublin Bus?