Aug 10 2010 11:17am

Behold, The 2010 Social Networking Map

Updating and expanding on xkcd’s epic “Map of Online Communities,” the guys over at social media marketing site Flowtown have produced the new (and improved?) 2010 Social Networking Map:

(Expanded map here).

It’s interesting to compare and contrast the two versions and consider how the internet has evolved since Randall Munroe first published the original map in May, 2007... even considering the terminology shift from “Online Communities” to the more specific “Social Networking,” I wonder why Fark, Reddit, and 4chan are conspicuously absent (4chan rates its own pirate ship at the very least, if not some kind of unholy Leviathan rising from the deep). Meanwhile, crumbling behemoths like Friendster and MySpace still take up quite a bit of territory, with the obvious caveat that Not All Users Are Active—I can only assume that the map would look very different if these stats actually reflected the number of active accounts.

So, what do you say, Interwebs—did they get it right? Anything missing? Will future maps be entirely covered in horrific, Justin Bieber-shaped double rainbows, and if so, is it too late to mount some sort of armed resistance? So many questions...

Bridget McGovern sometimes uses the Muppets for evil Internet purposes. Don’t say she didn’t warn you.

Alrin Kharr
1. Alrin Kharr
I would guess that 4chan might have been excluded because it's somewhat more difficult to get an accurate figure for the number of people who use it, since there's no actual user registration there. Or, perhaps because it's not really a "social networking" site; although I do agree that it probably should have been represented in some fashion.
Sean McGuire
2. Exorian
hm....I think I preferred the wiki's being represented as some massive, Dubai-esque terraforming project that takes up an entire corner of the map. Other than that though, this does seem to capture the feel of the original, while accounting for the change in the internet landscape since that one was made.
Jason Ramboz
3. jramboz
I'm not exactly sure we're comparing apples to apples here: I think "Online Communities" to "Social Networks" is more than just a terminology shift. Communities are gatherings of people who share common goals and/or culture. A social network, to me, is more a mechanism that may possibly implement a community... sort of like the infrastructure for a city.

For example, 4chan isn't a social network, sure, because it lacks the one-to-one and one-to-many connection infrastructure that defines a network. But it's most certainly a comminity, full of thriving discussions, creation of new memes, and the occasional pedobear sighting. The same for, say, Fark, or any lively web forum.

On the other hand, Facebook is certainly a social network; it's nothing BUT infrastructure! But I think you'd be hard pressed to call Facebook a community. There's no overall Facebook culture, no Facebook-wide chat. At best, Facebook is a collection of separate but occasionally overlapping communities. I doubt anyone thinks of themselves with pride as a "Facebooker," the way one would, say, claim membership in a forum as a Farker. At best, you're a Facebook user; Facebook is a tool, something you use, not something you're part of.

So is this an interesting map? Sure. But I'm not really sure it measures what everyone thinks it measures.
Alrin Kharr
4. John Gordon
They're missing Google Reader Shares. It's the high rent neighbor of Buzz.
Alrin Kharr
5. Sally Higgins
^agree with above comment...mostly

However a pirate ship more accurately represents what 4chan is as opposed to a straight-forward social networking site

but I don't think there's a good reason for Fark or Reddit to have been excluded, especially if something as obsolete as Friendster was included.
Brad Richardson
6. thatscifiguy
I'm pretty sure that Tor.com should have a cozy little peninsula for rocket launches. Clearly they didn't do a complete survey ;)
Erick Chase
7. TheMarchChase
Where is QQ?
It's been called the Chinese Facebook and, I have read, that it has close to 1 billion users.
Bridget McGovern
8. BMcGovern
All really interesting points...I agree with you, @jramboz, regarding the difference between social networks and online communities; these distinctions are important. If anything, 4chan is an anti-social network, but it's impossible to look at something like this and not consider its presence--it's an amorphous, subversive foil to sites like Facebook, but just as powerful in many ways. Coincidentally, the Washington Post actually had an interesting article about the impact of 4chan today, if anyone's interested.

Also, @thatscifiguy: both Stubby and I second your motion :)
Alrin Kharr
9. Inkwellac
HUGE mistake to not include the aggregators, which in many instances have more daily and weekly visitors than places named on the map. And multiple times more participation.

Reddit should be there. Fark should be there. Even Digg deserves a place at the table.

Maybe they're not lands. Maybe they should be considered the airlines that fly between the continents, or the travel agent that gets people from continent to continent.

Either way, their complete absence is a glaring oversight.
Jason Ramboz
10. jramboz

Thanks for pointing out the 4chan article! I thought it was pretty good. I'm a little surprised, though, that there was no mention of the fact that pretty much every major Internet meme in the last 5 years or so has started on 4chan. Sure, Anonymous does some terrible stuff, but as a whole 4chan makes some major contributions to Internet culture (such as it is).
John Masey
11. checkmate1
The map has to be bigger than that. There are some other social sites which need to be added. I found the 4chan article pointed out by BMcGovern very interesting as well. I would love to see the upcoming social network these guys are working on. They deserve it afterall because they have been part of the scene for sometime now.
14. boquaz
To me, this new map takes itself a little too seriously and fails to capture the spirit of the original. It's exactly what I would expect from a marketing department (which it is). There's little whimsy or fantasy involved, nothing really interesting (Qwghlm in the original, for example).

This also answers the questions of "where is..."

I say let the webcomics guys stick to this kind of thing.
Alrin Kharr
16. Asperatus
"Rising" Island of Google Buzz? Don't they mean "sinking", what with the cancellation and all? ;)

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