May 11, 2010

Deadly cyberscapes

In this set of maps, we visualize the number of references to the keywords "death" and "battle" in the Google Maps database.

References to Death

References to Battle
Unsurprisingly, there is a strong correlation between the number of hits for "death" and "battle" around the world. Much of North America, Africa and the Middle East contain a relatively large number of references to both terms. Perhaps the most obvious example is Iraq, which contains the most references to both keywords. This is undoubtedly related to the ongoing military occupation of Iraq by the US military.

There are, however, other factors influencing the distribution of references to these keywords. Despite being the sites of the Rwandan Civil War and the First and Second Congo Wars (each of which had much higher casualty figures than the Iraq war), both Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have a lower number of references to each of the terms.

These maps show that the geographies of specific terms are not necessarily representative of lived experiences everywhere. The virtual sphere offers voice to some, but ultimately still leaves out many important stories and representations.


  1. Googling isn't about living, it's about thinking. People thinking about death and battle. That's what I'm thinking. It would be even more interesting to see shadings within the U.S.

  2. @Ginny: Unfortunately, references to both "death" and "battle" within the United States (at the county level) aren't very revealing.

    Although we're not currently working on it, we are planning to do some comparisons between US county level references to "birth" and "death" and the actual statistics for birth and death rates.


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