February 26, 2010

Metro Cyberscapes from around the World

Today's posting is comparing the cyberscapes (geo-coded data in cyberspace) of a range of cities from around the world. While cyberscapes can come from a range of sources, these maps are limited to user generated placemarks in Google Maps.

The best way to understand these maps is that these are the locations which Internet users have decided to annotate with placemarks. Thus, places with a great deal of economic and cultural activity within metropolitan areas are the ones highlighted within these maps. For example, the financial district and Market Street corridor in San Francisco; Westminster and the City of London in London; and the historic downtown and University of Kentucky campus in Lexington. Be careful comparing one city to another as the symbols/legends are scaled differently for each city (see notes below).

(For some reason the blogger software insists on moving all the maps far below. Keep going and you'll see them).



Buenos Aires

Cape Town


Washington D.C.


Hong Kong



Lexington, KY


Los Angeles

Mexico City


New Orleans

New York


Rio de Janeiro

San Francisco


It is also useful to compare the maximum number of placemarks (limited to user generated placemarks containing the search term "1") found in any one location for each city. This provides a means by which the overall size of each metro's cyberscape can be compared. New York and London clearly are the best developed within this set of cities (and likely the world). Likewise one can see a sizeable difference between cities within developed and developing countries. Lexington, KY (a U.S. city of approximately 250,000 people) has a comparable number of placemarks as do the most important cities in South America, India and Africa.

Notes on the maps
  • These maps are based upon a 100 meter search grid of the city. The white box in each map indicates the area for which we have data.
  • The data measures the number of user generated placemarks containing the search term "1" (selected to limit the amount of language bias between cities) at the grid locations in each city. Google Map queries required a search term and "1" is the best proxy for general levels of placemark use.
  • Not surprisingly, there is a large amount of variation between cities with placemark use. The Pyongyang cyberscape has a maximum of 130 placemarks at any one location while New York has 100 times as many placemarks at its most dense location.
  • The size/color of the symbology is the same for each map but the scale can be quite different. For example, the largest symbol for Baghdad represents a range of 64 to 68 placemarks while the map of London does not even include locations that have fewer than 76 placemarks.
  • All data is from January 2009.


  1. Your blog is fascinating!

  2. Wow. Gun-clingin' Pyongyang looks like a real hotbed of Internet freedom, eh?


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