The Geography Of Talking

Apart from being a damn fine Trance album, German DJ Paul Van Dyk’s The Politics of Dancing would definitely make my top 5 list of album titles, if I had one. I love the way the two normally diametrically opposed ideas of politics and dancing are used together to make something new.

Here’s another example which is much more geo related; the geography of talking.

A group of researchers have redrawn the map of Great Britain using human interactions, in this case people talking to each other on the telephone, to show how little the way in which we communicate and the relationships we have bear any resemblance to the formal boundaries that governments draw on a map. In the map below, the total amount of talk time is shown, with the maps areas being more opaque the more calls and interactions are made.

Another view of the data is revealed when the concentration of calls made are plotted against the UK Government’s regional boundaries, which apart from any other insights, shows just how many people live in London and its environs and how much of a chatterbox we all are.

Sometimes I read arguments against using a map for visualising data, usually prefixed by words to the effect of “just because you can put something on a map”. Sometimes those arguments are justified, but sometimes the map remains the best way to view data and to draw insights from that data. Regardless of which point of view you subscribe to, I always like maps that allow you to look at the world in a different way.

You can read the full text of the research article at PLoS one; Redrawing the Map of Great Britain from a Network of Human Interactions – Ratti, Sobolevsky, Calabrese, Andris, Reades, Martino, Claxton and Strogatz.

Written and posted from the Palomar Kimpton Hotel, Midtown, Atlanta GA (33.778291, -84.38742)

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