Navigating the ever evolving communities on the web is a difficult task – it helps to have a map. Randall Munroe of the webcomic xkcd, has updated his (in)famous map of online communities from 2007. The 2010 version bears some striking contrast to the original. MySpace has shrunk, Facebook has swollen to gargantuan proportions, with farm related games taking up considerable real estate. China’s presence, with QQ and Happy Farm, is ever growing. During the redrawing of the map Munroe took the opportunity to delve into greater detail and places social media in the larger context of the internet as whole. It’s a fascinating piece of art, and a great way to wow yourself with the complexities of the worlds we’ve created online. Check out full size copies of both xkcd maps, along with a competing version created by Ethan Bloch of Flowtown, after the break. It’s crazy how much changes in just three years.
You can find the super large version of the 2010 map here. I love zooming in to see all the details that Munroe has included. You know, he shows TechCrunch, Gizmodo, and Engadget, but not the Hub. Hmph. I guess we can just claim the entire ‘Tech Blog’ section. That’s fair, right?
While the landscape of online communities is evolving, there seems to be one consistent trend: diversity. Recognizable giants like Facebook and YouTube hold major ground, but these maps are full of groups that demonstrate a wide variety of interests and beliefs. In the next decade or two, billions of more people will be coming online, many of them from developing nations. That growth will continue to diversify and change social media. Will the map of 2015 show Facebook dwarfed by QQ, or some new India-based video center looming over YouTube? Or will current leaders incorporate the influx of new users into their umbrella with automatic universal translations? No matter how our internet communities change, you can rest assured that the world will continue to immigrate online. Give it a few years and social media maps may have as much importance as traditional views of the globe. I wonder how long it will take for governments and major institutions to follow the webcomic example and start to map the new digital world.
[image credits: Randall Munroe/xkcd, Ethan Bloch/Flowtown]