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Facebook connects the world

January 26, 2011

Facebook intern Paul Butler has created a map representing the social networking firm’s 500 million members.

Each line draws lines between pairs of friends, connecting people and cities to create a “suprisingly detailed map of the world.”

The resulting picture is the result of trawling through Facebook’s database Apache Hive.

He wrote on his blog:  “I defined weights for each pair of cities as a function of the Euclidean distance between them and the number of friends between them. Then I plotted lines between the pairs by weight, so that pairs of cities with the most friendships between them were drawn on top of the others. I used a color ramp from black to blue to white, with each line’s color depending on its weight. I also transformed some of the lines to wrap around the image, rather than spanning more than halfway around the world.”

“After a few minutes of rendering, the new plot appeared, and I was a bit taken aback by what I saw. The blob had turned into a surprisingly detailed map of the world. Not only were continents visible, certain international borders were apparent as well.”

A visual representation of social networks in action – and I was proud of the rehashed press release I typed out on my internship today!

(Photo: Facebook)

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