Paul, an intern on Facebook's data infrastructure engineering team, recently took a sample of about 10 million pairs of friends from Facebook's data warehouse and plotted out their relationships. The result? A stunningly beautiful - and accurate - map of the world.
Click on the image for a closer look.
Paul's description of the process of creating this map is almost as dreamy as the image itself:
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. What really struck me, though, was knowing that the lines didn't represent coasts or rivers or political borders, but real human relationships. Each line might represent a friendship made while travelling, a family member abroad, or an old college friend pulled away by the various forces of life.
Now how about repeating this process with all 500 million individuals as data points next, Paul? I'd like to see if the resulting image is still as lovely. [Facebook]