Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The internet is actually kinda international now

From what I remember circa 2000, the idea that it's really a "World Wide" Web was more theoretical than actual. Seemed to be just us Americans on there. But lately I've gotten the sense that this time around, we've actually got everyone joining the party. Ok, so obviously it's not everyone yet but all across different forums and media-sharing sites it seems easy to find someone logging on from another country.

And it's not just a vague feeling - I've got data* now!

The exclamation points are because I just realized that over the last several months I'd inadvertently collected a bunch of info on where sampled internet users are from. I did it through yourworldoftext.com, which I wrote about way back at the beginning of this blog (see full explanation there). To summarize it, imagine an online, infinite wall of graffiti, ASCII style. And where do the users come from? The main way (I think) that people end up at my sub-page is through Google's Chrome Experiments, though feel free to peruse Google's list of links to it.

Here's what I'm getting at: on this page I came across a DIY guest book of sorts, meaning someone had written "WHERE ARE YOU FROM?" and people started writing their locations and current dates. The reason I say "I collected" the info is that without my effort this list would have been quickly written over or deleted. This version of graffiti is in pencil, and the commenters are a little eraser-happy. So I used my admin-powers to protect the list. And because I can't pre-protect text so I have to come back periodically and do a quick preservation on the recent entries. Over the last several months I made this an almost-daily routine of mine.

And so today I was noticing how a good proportion of the entries are from interesting places. I'll show everything I've collected up to this point to give an impression of how many entries I've gotten. If you're not up for perusing, I'll mention some highlights: Maharashtra, India; Szeged, Hungary; Turku, Finland; Rydzyna, Poland; Wollongong, Australia; and (drum roll..) Thimpu, Bhutan!

(but yes, plenty are jokes, which is to be expected on yourworldoftext.com)
yourworldoftext - chromeexperiments - location date signing list (logbook, guestbook) 1 resized

yourworldoftext - chromeexperiments - location date signing list (logbook, guestbook) 2

*I'll be clear: my scientific training balks at any implication that this is properly collected data, with the biases and self-selecting issues inherent to internet surveying.

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