A Subway Map of WebTrends


An Old Friend
153 - A Subway Map of Web Trends 2.0

Filed under: Uncategorized — strangemaps @

Intangible and invisible, but omnipresent: that combination of qualities used to describe only God (or the sense of dread left by His absence). Now it also applies to cyberspace. Any attempt to map the internet is bound to fall frustratingly short of its true complexity, or to be so complex as to be illegible.
This map, suggested to me by Jezza Robinson, strikes a good balance between the web’s tentacularity and its interconnectedness, by cleverly using the conceit of a subway map. The map is a modification of this Tokyo subway map.
This is actually the second such map produced by Information Architects (here; their Web Trend Map 1.0 is here). As they themselves define it, this map shows “the 200 most successful websites on the web, ordered by category, proximity, success, popularity and perspective.”
The map shows 15 distinct lines, organising the top websites into categories sucs as News, Sharing, Main Sites, Music, Political Blogs, Chinese Line, etc. Obviously, there is overlap. That’s where the Junctions come in: YouTube, for example, is on the Main Sites line, but also on the Movies and Knowhow lines. WordPress sits astride the Social News, Design and Technology lines.
An interesting innovation is a 6 month weather forecast for some of the stations (as the weather’s generally rather stable in a genuine subway), indicating their chances in an ever changing cyberspace. Google’s future is ‘unreal’, Xing’s is ‘insecure’, the Washington Post’s is ‘changing’, MSN is headed for ‘storm’. Whether the wheather may be wet or fine, is tied in with their being web sites of generation 1.0 or 2.0. A few stations are classified more specifically as 0.5, 1.5, 2.5.
For insiders, i.e. people familiar with the original Tokyo subway map, there are some jokes about the exact locations of some of these stations: YouTube hase moved into Shibuya station, “a humming place for young people”, pushing Google to Shinjuku, “a suspicious, messy, Yakuza-controlled (station), but still a pretty cool place to hang out.”
“If you’re a geek like us, you might just want to download the A3-PDF, print it out and hang it on the wall. So you can stare at it all day long.” Which is exactly what strange maps are there for, but… Information Architects also provides a clickable online map one can use as “a starting point on your daily data hunt.” Which is rather cool. An updated map is due for December 2007.
Here is another

118 - Online Communities Map (Not For Navigation)

Filed under: 21st Century Map, Cultural Fault Lines, Non-Fictional, Parody — strangemaps @

Somewhat in the style of a treasure map, this ‘Map of Online Communities’ shows MySpace, Wikipedia, SecondLife and other user-generated phenomena now populating the internet.
The geography is not as random as one could assume at first glance. Area and position are significant. Thus, each community’s geographic area represents its estimated size, and the ‘compass-shaped island’ gives clues as to what each quarter signifies:

  • North are more ‘practical’ communities,
  • South is for the ‘intellectuals’.
  • West lie the communities with a ‘real life’ connection,
  • East those with a focus on the web itself.
This irresistible map has been floating around the web for a couple of weeks, but I’ve held off posting it until now.
I’m a map nerd, dammit, not a computer geek! Of course, I know of MySpace and am not surprised to see it occupy such a large and central part of the map. And sure, Wikipedia is on the intellectual extreme of the North-South axe. I can see why reunion dot com and classmates dot com would be far northwest (being practical for tracking down real life people).
But what is SourceForge, and in which way is it ‘intellectual’ and ‘web-solipsistic’ since it is situated on the other, southeastern extreme of the map? Why is there a Bay of Angst right next to Xanga? And what is Xanga? Is Sulawesi a reference to the “IRL” island in the Indonesian archipelago (it has the right shape – sort of), or am I missing some nerdy in-joke here? Why are there anthropomorphic dragons near the Ocean of Subculture?
Very frustratingly, almost nothing on this map makes sense to me! Oh, the horror!
The original location of this map is at xkcd, a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language. Overwhelmed (and overjoyed, I suspect) by the success of their map, they’re now selling it as a poster.
The Online Community map seemed to be missing a prominent site, so I remedied the situation:


Is that a secret lair inside an active volcano? With a flying saucer hovering overhead? Why, yes. Yes it is.