The New York Times has created a series of maps illustrating how connected each county in the United States is to the rest of the nation based on Facebook connections. The maps color-code each county based on the number of Facebook friends its residents have outside its county, creating an index of social interaction. The maps demonstrate interesting relationships between geography and social spheres, such as how old historic migration patterns often mirror counties’ connections. For example, Chicago has significant connections to counties along the Mississippi River, where people migrated from during the Great Migration. Additionally, the maps show that while 63 percent of an individual’s Facebook friends lived within 100 miles of them in the average county, counties with more dispersed networks are richer, more educated, and have a longer life expectancy.
Mapping the Relationship Between Geography and Social Networks
Michael McLaughlin is a research analyst at the Center for Data Innovation. He researches and writes about a variety of issues related to information technology and Internet policy, including digital platforms, e-government, and artificial intelligence. Michael graduated from Wake Forest University, where he majored in Communication with Minors in Politics and International Affairs and Journalism. He received his Master’s in Communication at Stanford University, specializing in Data Journalism.
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