December 14, 2009

Peer produced business and sex

One of the real advantages of user generated placemarks is that there are no restrictions on the type of references that can be made. Historical references, pop culture icons and everyday minutia are all potential topics for placemarks. With this breadth in mind, we wanted to see how the common global memes of "business" and "sex" become evident via the geoweb.

In each of the following maps, the size of the black circles indicates the absolute number of references to either "sex" or "business" in user-created Google placemarks. The shading of each map represents the specialization in references to each term (each term was compared to an index of all other user-generated content).

User Generated References to Business
Sex and business clearly have distinct albeit related geographies. Not surprisingly the developed world has the largest concentration of both types of placemarks; consistent with the information inequality we've already noted.

North America, Japan and much of Europe are largely blanketed by references to business., while most of the rest of the world is characterized by far fewer virtual references. The UK and North America also have a high degree of specialization in terms of references to business, but high values are also present in non-Western countries that have strong ties to global business networks. As the largest low cost manufacturer, China shows a high degree of business specialization as does much of Central America which recently entered the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) accord. The two largest economies of sub-Saharan Africa (Nigeria and South Africa) are specialized in business, as is the U.A.E. (where Dubai is located). Other countries such as Indonesia and Hungary are highly specialized as well.

User Generated References to Sex
Interestingly, references to business, are much more geographically dispersed than references to sex. Again, in absolute terms, the United States, Northern Europe and Japan have by far the most references to sex. However, when looking at specialization, intriguing patterns emerge. The United States and parts of Northern Europe (particularly the UK, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Iceland, and for some reason the Norwegian Island of Svalbard) continue to be ranked highly.

Yet it is large parts of Africa that contain the highest degree of specialization. Or, in other words, user-generated content in countries like Nigeria, Kenya and Tunisia is far more likely to contain references to sex than user-generated content in most other places. While one would expect to see a degree of specialization in countries like the Netherlands (due to well known sex industries of Amsterdam), the amount of specialization in places like Mauritania, Zambia and Lesotho is truly surprising. It could simply be a spurious result based on the generally low number of user generated placemarks in those locations. Alternatively it suggests that "sex" may be one of the first topics in which people comment about a place and it is only later that more mainstream foci appear.

1 comment:

  1. This is good stuff, Thanks Matthew.

    I have the impression that the selection of the search terms might biais the geographical distribution. From the map it seems evident to me that the French are underepresented because the English term of business was used as an indicator. Right ? What about the Chinese ? The Germans ? The Spanish ? If so, the map legend should mention that limit.

    I studied the specialisation for the geographical distribution of sex-related terms but included a series of alternative terms, such as xxx, porn etc. My result was that the mosty sex-specialised countries were Muslim countries with at least a moderate internet diffusion, such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc. This looks somewhat different to what you show.

    A study with a multi-language approach and with alternative search terms will give a more complete picture of the geographical distribution of user-generated content on the web.