Posts Tagged ‘lynda’

The 2010 Census Road Show Uses a Mashup (aka, Fill out your form)

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

2010 Census

[Editor’s note: The decennial census won’t win awards for it’s tag line (It’s in our hands) but it is important and is taking place NOW across the United States. They PR folks employ a Google Maps mashup in Flash to real-time track the promo vehicles (the gas powered ones, not sled powered) and see the vehicles entire route (which are not optimized for fuel efficiency if the red connecting lines can be believed). Thanks Lynda!]

Republished in part from Census.gov (second).

(above) Noorvik, Alaska, January 25, 2010 — Census Bureau Director Robert Groves traveled by dog sled today and visited residents in the remote Alaskan village of Noorvik. There he met with the mayor and local leaders before a team of huskies guided him to a local residence to perform the first 2010 Census enumeration.

What is the 2010 Census Road Tour?

At 2010 Census Portrait of America Road Tour events, participants can learn about the 2010 Census and the positive impact their participation can have on their local community and the nation.

2010 Census Vehicles

The 2010 Census Portrait of America Road Tour consists of 13 vehicles visiting communities across the nation from January to April 2010.

screen-shot-2010-01-25-at-62933-pm

screen-shot-2010-01-25-at-63319-pm

Flickr Geotagged Photos as Cartogram Map

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

flickerdistribution

[Editor’s note: As more cameras and users tag their photos on upload into the Flickr pool, we can visualize where users are contributing via the above cartogram and below as 3d globe map. The cartogram source isn’t attributed, but I like how it breaks out high and medium contribution areas in blue and pink, and then shows largly unpopulated areas (but still popular to photograph in the Amazon’s case) in green, and then ocean areas in grey. Or thats my take on it ;) Thanks Lynda!]

Republished from Flickr user Straup and RevDanCatt.

Play movie at original site, screenshot below.

flickrprocessing
So, here it is, 24 hours worth of geotagged photos (64,410) from last Monday, March 23rd. Our numbers say that around 30% are normally private, giving us a total of around 92,000 geotagged photos for that day, which is just over 1 photo geotagged per second.

All the data was pulled down (using Processing, of all things) via the API, and probably took around 12 minutes (when it’s behaving itself) as I was being a) gentle with the servers b) was getting it as JSON which takes a while for Processing to parse each page (more information here: blog.blprnt.com/blog/blprnt/processing-json-the-new-york-…. And then written to a flat file.

Continue reading and view video at Flickr . . .

Periodic Table of Typefaces (Behance)

Friday, March 13th, 2009

[Editor’s note: View 100 of the most popular, influential, and notorious typefaces (fonts) arranged in a Periodic Table for quick reference and amusement. Thanks Lynda!]

Republished from Behance Network.
Click image above for larger view.

The Periodic Table of Typefaces is obviously in the style of all the thousands of over-sized Periodic Table of Elements posters hanging in schools and homes around the world.  This particular table lists 100 of the most popular, influential and notorious typefaces today.

As with traditional periodic tables, this table presents the subject matter grouped categorically.  The Table of Typefaces groups by families and classes of typefaces:  sans-serif, serif, script, blackletter, glyphic, display, grotesque, realist, didone, garalde, geometric, humanist, slab-serif and mixed.

Each cell of the table lists the typeface and a one or two character “symbol” (made up by me simply based on logic), the designer, year designed and a ranking of 1 through 100.

Ranking was determined by statistically sorting and combining lists and opinions from the the sites listed below.  The final overall ranking was achieved depending on how many lists the particular typeface was presented on and it’s ranking on the lists (if the particular source list used a ranking system; some did not, in which case just the typeface’s presence on the list boosted it’s overall score.)  After averaging the typefaces appearances and rankings a composite score was given and the list was sorted on a spreadsheet then finally given an overall score of 1 through 100 based on its final resting position.

Continue reading at Behance Network . . .

(below) Detail from the Periodic Table of Typefaces.

Credit Crunch Board Game (Economist)

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

[Editor’s note: Game board amusements were the rage in 2008 print from sports to the credit crunch. This entry a Christmas present from the Economist. See related content from Harpers on The $10 Trillion Hangover – Paying the Price for Eight Years of Bush.]

Republished from the Economist.

YOU WILL NEED:

  • The board from the centre of The Economist’s Christmas issue (or pdf version of board below)
  • These rules
  • Risk cards, currency and icons from the pdfs below (or you can use your diamond cufflinks, or any other mementos of your former wealth, to represent you on the board)
  • Four coins
  • Scissors (to cut out currency and cards)
  • Three or more players; probably six at most

HOW IT WORKS

Players start with 500m econos each. One player doubles as banker.

Players move round by throwing four coins and progressing as many squares as they throw heads. If a player throws four heads, he moves forward four spaces and has another turn; if he throws four tails, he throws again. When a player lands on a + square, he collects money from the bank; equally, when he lands on a minus square, he pays the bank.

The aim is to be the last solvent player. In order to achieve this, players try to eliminate the competition. Risk cards encourage players to pick on each other.

Players who cannot pay their fines may borrow from each other at any rate they care to settle on—for instance, 100% interest within three turns. They should negotiate with the other players to get the best rate possible. Players who cannot borrow must either go into Chapter 11 or be taken over.

Players may conceal their assets from each other. 

Continue reading and download board game assets . . .

 

New 7 Jan. 2009: 

Econopoly from The Washington Post.

Superbowl Game (2008)

Who’s Buying What (Good Mag)

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

A look at where people around the world are directing some of their purchasing power.

Average yearly expenditures per citizen by type of item: Clothing, Household Goods, Alcohol & Tobacco, Recreation, and Electronics. Ranked by 10 highest spenders and 10 lowest spenders. 

[Editor's note: Indonesia map needs some work but neat concept.]

Republished from Good magazine. Click image for larger view.

SOURCE: Euromonitor International.

The $10 Trillion Hangover – Paying the Price for Eight Years of Bush (Harper’s)

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

[Editor’s note: Nigel Holmes, the big kahuna of information graphics, illustrates the January 2009 cover story in Harper’s magazine on the expensive economic price of 8 years of Bush. Good luck, Obama! Nigel Holmes was graphics director of Time magazine for sixteen years. Thanks Lynda!]

Republished from Harper’s. January 2009 issue. By Linda J. Bilmes and Joseph E. Stiglitz. Information graphics by Nigel Holmes. (Their bios at bottom of post.) PDF version.

In the eight years since George W. Bush took office, nearly every component of the U.S. economy has deteriorated. The nation’s budget deficits, trade deficits, and debt have reached record levels. Unemployment and inflation are up, and household savings are down. Nearly 4 million manufacturing jobs have disappeared and, not coincidentally, 5 million more Americans have no health insurance. Consumer debt has almost doubled, and nearly one fifth of American homeowners are likely to owe more in mortgage debt than their homes are actually worth. Meanwhile, as we have reported previously, the final price for the war in Iraq is expected to reach at least $3 trillion.

As bad as things are, though, this is just the beginning. The Bush Administration not only has depressed the economy and racked up unprecedented debt; it also has made expensive new commitments to the Medicare Part D prescription drug program, to disability compensation and education benefits for veterans, to replenishing the military equipment consumed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and simply to paying interest on the debt itself.

The president is not solely to blame for American profligacy, of course. Congress approved inequitable tax cuts and spending binges, and the Federal Reserve and other regulators, along with the mortgage industry and millions of consumers, share responsibility for the housing collapse. Nonetheless, the outgoing administration has made a series of unwise economic choices that together will add up to a burdensome legacy.

Using conservative assumptions, we calculate that the bill for Bush-era excess—the total new debt combined with the total new accrued obligations— amounts to $10.35 trillion. This legacy will have long-term consequences for America’s prosperity, but it also will weigh heavily and immediately on the Obama Administration, which will need to spend money fast to get the economy moving again.

When George W. Bush took office, he inherited a budget surplus of $128 billion and a bright fiscal future. The Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan government agency responsible for estimating future expenditures and revenues, projected a cumulative budget surplus of about $5.6 trillion between 2002 and 2011, if the country stayed on track—which of course it did not. What happened instead was that the administration successfully pushed for not only two rounds of massive, inequitable tax cuts but also a 59 percent surge in government spending. The result has been the largest budget deficits in U.S. history, and estimates of the current deficit are climbing even as we go to press. In September, before the financial meltdown, the CBO projected the deficit for fiscal 2009 to reach $438 billion—about the same level as it was in 2008—but in October, Peter Orszag, the director of the CBO, predicted the deficit would reach $750 billion, and we believe that number could go higher still. Such increases are the result of several factors:

Iraq and Afghanistan The combined annual costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including indirect costs, have shot from $20 billion in 2001 to more than $208 billion this year.

Other Defense But government spending on the rest of the military also has grown more quickly than at any time since the Vietnam War. Part of that growth is attributable to indirect costs of the Iraq war (such as the growing recruitment budget), but much of it stems from an unrelated spending spree on acquisitions, weapons systems, and research.

Medicare Entitlement spending has risen even faster than projected, in part because of another major initiative of the Bush Administration: the 2006 launch of Medicare Part D. This new provision, which provides prescription drug coverage for seniors, added $47.4 billion to the cost of Medicare in 2006—a jump that accounted for almost 12 percent of total Medicare spending.

Net Interest on Debt All of the new debt incurred to pay for the foregoing did not come free. Net interest, which fell in the early part of the Bush Administration as a result of Clinton-era belt-tightening, has begun to climb back toward record levels, and now is the fourth-largest spending category in the federal budget.

The result of deficit spending is debt. When President Bush took office, the national debt was $5.7 trillion. Now it is $10.6 trillion—and Congress voted in October to raise the debt ceiling to $11.3 trillion, the seventh such hike since President Bush took office and the second since last July. If, as is quite likely, we reach the new ceiling by January 20, the outgoing president will have managed to amass more debt than all of his predecessors combined.

And even that number may be too small. When the federal government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, it also assumed their $5.4 trillion debt. The accounting procedures used by the International Monetary Fund, and endorsed by the CBO, normally require that such debt also be taken into account, which means that the total national debt now may be as high as $15 trillion. (If we account for only the riskiest loans, however, that number would “only” be $12 trillion.)

But the pain most Americans are feeling right now is much more immediate. The increase in credit-card, automobile, mortgage, and other forms of personal debt—from around $8 trillion in 2000 (in current dollars) to more than $14 trillion today—also looms behind the implosion of our financial system. Had the value of assets increased in tandem, that increase might not have mattered, but what is remarkable about America’s debt binge under President Bush is that it primarily served consumption. Homebuyers used easy credit to buy overpriced houses, which they then refinanced to pay for every other kind of consumption, betting that in the end rising housing prices would balance the account. At the same time, household savings rates plummeted, hitting zero or less than zero in some areas. With housing prices in a slump and no money in the bank, the result, according to one estimate, will be more than 5,000 foreclosures per day—more than at any time since the Great Depression.

The national debt is now more than 70 percent of the gross domestic product, the highest such proportion in half a century. Where did all this debt come from? To an unprecedented extent, America depends on loans from China, Japan, and the Middle East. The share of public debt that is owed to foreign nationals has risen from 31 percent in 2000 to 46 percent today. This means that every man, woman, and child in the United States owes $9,000 to some other country.
The national debt has already nearly doubled in the Bush era, but the consequences of the president’s policies will continue to be felt for many years to come. We estimate that the total bill to the nation as a direct result of President Bush’s policies, in today’s dollars, is an amazing $10.35 trillion. This includes the new debt as well as liabilities that will need to be paid through 2018. We can break this legacy into eight components:

Increase in National Debt Debt has long been a fixture of American governance, of course, but—given the surplus President Bush inherited—even a conservative estimate of the Bush bill requires that we take into account the entirety at least of his addition to that debt. The Bush tax cuts lowered national revenues by about $1 trillion, even as the government spent nearly $900 billion in direct operations for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and added another $600 billion to the total spending on “regular” defense, a significant proportion of which is indirectly related to those wars. And because interest accrues on the outstanding debt, interest charges also will rise. It should be noted as well that this increase does not take into account another factor: had Clinton-era policies been kept in place the past eight years, the CBO estimates, the overall national debt actually would have significantly decreased. Cost: $4.9 trillion

Projected Deficit for 2009 The rapidly weakening economy means that tax revenues will fall off, even as unemployment benefits and other government spending rise. Congress also is likely to approve a significantly larger stimulus package, possibly in excess of $300 billion, and more spending on the bailouts already undertaken, as well as new bailouts and subsidies for struggling sectors such as the auto industry. Moreover, even assuming that the United States begins to withdraw combat troops from Iraq, we expect that the war’s costs will remain steady at best in 2009, as functions are transferred to private contractors. We also expect that Congress will extend the temporary fix of the alternative minimum tax and will enact some form of additional homeowner mortgage relief. For all these reasons, next year’s budget deficit easily could rise to a trillion dollars, so our estimate is a bare minimum. Cost: $0.75 trillion

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac When the federal government took over these failing residential mortgage giants, it also assumed their $5.4 trillion in mortgage-backed securities and outstanding debt. Under conventional accounting standards, this entire amount should be counted as part of the national debt. It is difficult to predict, however, how much exposure the United States has really taken on. We have included what is likely to be the minimum additional debt that the CBO adds on for these agencies, which is the $1.6 trillion in risky unsecured debt. The final cost, however, will depend on how far housing prices fall, and how many houses go into foreclosure, which presents the incoming administration with a significant dilemma: if it spends less on stimulus it will need to spend more on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Cost: $1.6 trillion

Debt from Other Bailouts Congress has already provided $700 billion in authority to purchase toxic mortgages and other assets through the Troubled Asset Relief Program. It also has committed another $800 billion to bailing out AIG, Bear Stearns, and other financial firms, and it most likely will extend this commitment to other core U.S. industries in the coming year. Although some of this cost will appear in the 2009 budget, much of it will not be accounted for until 2010 or later. Not all of the loans will go sour, so it is difficult to estimate the price tag on these programs. Cost: $0.5 trillion

Future Interest on New Debt The United States spends nearly $250 billion per year in net interest payments (interest paid on Treasury debt securities less interest received by the Social Security and other trust funds). The CBO projects that the net interest payable on the total debt will over the next decade exceed $3.35 trillion, of which about $1.5 trillion is directly attributable to the debt that we have taken on during the past eight years. Even this figure, however, understates the true amount of interest payable, because interest also will accrue on money that will need to be borrowed in the next ten years to pay for obligations incurred in the past eight years. Cost: $1.5 trillion

Medicare Part D The administration’s flagship prescription drug benefit program is expected to cost $800 billion over the next decade. It is possible, though, that the number will be larger. The program has been criticized because, unlike the department of Veterans Affairs, Medicare does not negotiate bulk price discounts with drug companies. In addition, the program coverage contains a “doughnut hole” whereby Part D stops paying for drugs after a senior receives prescriptions totaling $2,700, and doesn’t resume coverage until that senior has paid an additional $3,454 for drugs. Our estimate is based on the assumption that Congress will take steps to close the “doughnut hole” but also will take steps to encourage price negotiation with pharmaceutical companies. Cost: $0.8 trillion

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Entitlements For every U.S. serviceman or -woman killed in Iraq, fifteen more have been wounded, injured, or have contracted an illness serious enough to require medical evacuation. More than 350,000 U.S. veterans from the two wars have sought medical treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and nearly 300,000 have filed applications for disability benefits (more than 90 percent of which are likely to be approved). The cost of providing medical care and disability benefits may eventually exceed even the cost of combat operations, and over just the next decade, using the most optimistic assumptions, taking care of these veterans is going to cost at least $59 billion. The president also reluctantly signed into law a measure that restored education benefits for new veterans in an updated G.I. Bill, which we estimate will cost $40 billion over the next decade. Cost: $0.1 trillion.

Rebuilding National Defense The armed forces have been severely depleted by the efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, in terms of personnel, training, and equipment. While we urge spending reductions in some areas of defense (e.g., space-weapons programs and other projects with huge cost overruns), there is no doubt that the military will require a substantial expenditure to “reset” basic military strength. This includes the replenishment of aircraft, vehicles, and weaponry; restoring the National Guard to its previous strength; depreciation of equipment used or abandoned in Iraq; and the costs related to a partial withdrawal from Iraq, including the dismantling of some bases. In addition, the Pentagon will need to spend considerably more over the next decade on military hospitals, recruiting, and bonuses. Cost: $0.2 trillion

The worst legacy of the past eight years is that despite colossal government spending, most Americans are worse off than they were in 2001. This is because money was squandered in Iraq and given as a tax windfall to America’s richest individuals and corporations, rather than spent on such projects as education, infrastructure, and energy independence, which would have made all of us better off in the long term.

President Bush did manage, by way of deficit spending, to grow the economy by 20 percent during his tenure. But who benefited from that growth? Between 2002 and 2006, the wealthiest 10 percent of households saw more than 95 percent of the gains in income. And even within those rarefied strata, the gains tended to be concentrated at the very top. According to one study, the nation’s 15,000 richest families doubled their annual income, from $15 million to $30 million. And in that same period, corporate profits shot up by 68 percent—more than five times the growth seen in the overall economy.

Even as the wealthiest families have increased their holdings, the families at the center of the income spectrum saw their incomes shrink by 1 percent. In 2000, the average weekly earnings of production and nonsupervisory workers (70 percent of the workforce) amounted to $527 (in current dollars). Six years later, their wages had risen a mere $11, and those same workers have meanwhile seen their net worth (assets minus liabilities) wither as a result of falling home values, higher personal debt, and shrinking savings—factors now being exacerbated by the collapsing stock markets.

The extraordinary transfer of wealth that has taken place from ordinary households to the super-rich has been made possible by another transfer: borrowing money from future prosperity to pay for current consumption. For example, President Bush provided a much heralded $600 tax rebate to most families in 2001. But once interest rates return to more normal levels, simply servicing the new debt from the Bush years will require those same families to spend more than $2,000 a year, year after year, forever.

The Obama Administration, facing the most serious economic crisis in at least a generation, will need to mount an expansionary fiscal policy. The problem is how much the country’s debt mountain will crimp our ability to pay for the type of change we just voted for— better health care, public investment in alternative forms of energy, and a renewal of our aging roads and bridges— and that we need in order to rescue the economy.

The global financial crisis is denting the huge foreign exchange reserves of governments that bankrolled the Bush spending spree. Although our major creditors will continue lending to us, even they have their limits. If the world’s appetite for U.S. Treasury bonds begins to wane, that would likely drive up long-term interest rates and send the dollar lower, leading to inflation. Historically, governments faced with such impossible debt mountains have resorted to inflation in order to repay their debt more cheaply. But high inflation hits the poorest members of society hardest. Whether we struggle to break our addiction to deficit spending in order to pay off our debts, or wind up inflating them away, the economic mistakes of the George W. Bush White House will cast a long shadow over the next generation of Americans.

Linda J. Bilmes, a lecturer in public finance at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, is a former assistant secretary for administration, management, and budget in the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Joseph E. Stiglitz is University Professor of Economics at Columbia University and winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics. Bilmes and Stiglitz are co-authors of The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict.

Nigel Holmes was the graphics director of Time magazine for sixteen years and is the author of Wordless Diagrams.

Public Art in Google Street View (Good Mag)

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

The Most Exciting Street in the World

[Editor’s note: The Flash player version of Google Maps Street View below has full 360° movement like an image panorama, cool! Thanks Lynda and Kristin.]

Republished from Good Magazine. Posted by: Andrew Price on November 10, 2008.

Google’s Street View feature has captured private moments before, but “Street with a View” is the first example of public art we’ve seen that was designed specifically to be documented by Google’s roving cameras, and viewed online through Street View.

For “Street with a View,” artists Robin Hewlett and Ben Kinsley enlisted the help of a full cast of artists and performers to set up a series of tableaux—including a parade, a sword fight, a rooftop escape, and a perplexing giant chicken—along Sampsonia Way in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They then invited Google to drive through the scene and immortalize it in its Street View feature.

Take a stroll down fantastic Sampsonia Way via Street View here. There’s also the movie below, documenting the making of “Street with a View.”

The effect of combining Street View’s objective, documentary nature with these illusory, staged events is very Michel-Gondry-esque. We wonder how long it would have taken for people to stumble upon Sampsonia Way in Street View if the whole project had been kept secret. (Via PSFK)

On May 3rd 2008, artists Robin Hewlett and Ben Kinsley invited the Google Inc. Street View team and residents of Pittsburgh’s Northside to collaborate on a series of tableaux along Sampsonia Way. Neighbors, and other participants from around the city, staged scenes ranging from a parade and a marathon, to a garage band practice, a seventeenth century sword fight, a heroic rescue and much more…

Street View technicians captured 360-degree photographs of the street with the scenes in action and integrated the images into the Street View mapping platform. This first-ever artistic intervention in Google Street View made its debut on the web in November of 2008.

2008 Election Maps (kottke.org)

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

[Republished from kottke.org. Click on the media outlet name below the map image to go to the final map results presentations. The Washington Post entry is 75% the way down the page. The Onion map at the very bottom is quite amusing.]

Most media outlets covering the 2008 US Presidential Election used the familar red/blue map to track the progress of the race as results from the polls rolled in Tueday evening. Here are several of those maps, in some ways as similar to each other as they are varied. If you run across more maps, send ‘em my way. (Note: Most of these aren’t the final maps…I wanted to get screenshots before the sites started moving things around too much.)

Update 11/5 @ 11am: I added 10 new maps to the bottom, including a DIY map drawn on a dry erase board.

NY Times

New York Times – Nice big clean map, the consensus best map of the 2008 election.

CNN

CNN

Fox News

Fox News – Fox is never subtle.

538

FiveThirtyEight.com – These guys are all about the data. No fancying up the maps.

(more…)

Vote! Map of Newspaper Endorsements in the 2008 US Presidential Election (InfoChimps)

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

[Editor’s note: This interactive map and blog post from InfoChimps shows how most newspapers across the US have endorsed Obama for president over McCain. The accompanying blog post discusses how notions of “red” and “blue” states has problems and might better be conceptualized as urban & rural.

Republished from InfoChimps where they have full table listing of each newspaper, their endorcement, and circulation stats. Thanks Lynda!]

View interactive version at InfoChimps!

Screenshots: map – big · med · sm | bar graph

See also: our «Red/Blue split vs. Rural/Urban split» graph

Apart from the unsurprising evidence that (choose one: [[Obama is the overwhelming choice]] -OR- [[there is overwhelming liberal media bias]]), I’m struck by the mismatch between papers’ endorsements and their “Red State” vs “Blue State” alignment.

  • I think the amount of red in the blue states is a market effect. If you’re the Boston Herald, there’s no percentage in agreeing with the Boston Globe; similarly The Daily News vs New York Post, SF Examiner vs SF Chronicle &c. (One reason the Tribune endorsement, even accounting for hometown bias, is so striking.) I don’t mean that one or the other alignment is wrong, or chosen cynically — simply that in a market supporting multiple papers, readers and journalists are efficiently sorted into two separate camps.
  • The amount of blue in the red states highlights how foolishly incomplete the “Red State/Blue State” model is for anything but electoral college returns. The largest part of the Red/Blue split is Rural/Urban. Consider the electoral cartogram for the last election. Almost every city is blue, even in the south and mountain, while almost all rural areal is red, even in California and Massachusetts. The urban exceptions on the cartogram — chiefly Dallas, Houston and Boise — stand noticeably alone on the endorsement map as having red unpaired with blue. (in this election even the Houston Chronicle is endorsing Obama, but they are quite traditionally Republican.)

This seems to speak of why so many on the right feel there’s a MSM bias. Roughly 50% of the country lives in a top-50 metro area (metros of over a million people: like Salt Lake City or Raleigh, NC and on up), 50% live outside (in rural areas, or in cities like Fresno, CA and Allentown/Bethlehem, PA or smaller). But our major newspapers are located almost exclusively in urban areas.

Thus, surprisingly, the major right-leaning papers are located in parts of the country we consider highly leftish: the largest urban areas are both «the most liberal» and «the most likely to support a sizeable conservative target audience».

Instant-Messagers Really Are About Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon (WaPo)

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

six degrees[Editor’s note: Topology makes internet searches faster, makes cool maps, and connects people in social networks.]

Big Microsoft Study Supports Small World Theory

By Peter Whoriskey Reprinted
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 2, 2008; Page A01

Turns out, it is a small world.

The “small world theory,” embodied in the old saw that there are just “six degrees of separation” between any two strangers on Earth, has been largely corroborated by a massive study of electronic communication.

With records of 30 billion electronic conversations among 180 million people from around the world, researchers have concluded that any two people on average are distanced by just 6.6 degrees of separation, meaning that they could be linked by a string of seven or fewer acquaintances.

The database covered all of the Microsoft Messenger instant-messaging network in June 2006, or roughly half the world’s instant-messaging traffic at that time, researchers said.

“To me, it was pretty shocking. What we’re seeing suggests there may be a social connectivity constant for humanity,” said Eric Horvitz, a Microsoft researcher who conducted the study with colleague Jure Leskovec. “People have had this suspicion that we are really close. But we are showing on a very large scale that this idea goes beyond folklore.”

Continue reading at Washington Post . . .