118 - Online Communities Map (Not For Navigation)

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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.


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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:

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  • North are more ‘practical’ communities,
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  • South is for the ‘intellectuals’.
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  • West lie the communities with a ‘real life’ connection,
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  • East those with a focus on the web itself.
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This irresistible map has been floating around the web for a couple of weeks, but I’ve held off posting it until now.

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Why?

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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).

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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?

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Very frustratingly, almost nothing on this map makes sense to me! Oh, the horror!

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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.

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