19 June 2008

A map of the browser uprising

It passed me by earlier this week, but apparently Firefox staged a download day as an attempt to set a Guinness Record for software downloads. The final count was more than eight million and, at time of writing, the record is being assessed by Guinness.

What is especially interesting is, if you look at the interactive map showing which countries downloaded how many copies, it provides a fascinating view of global connectivity. North Korea is amongst the few countries that rated zero. Does that mean no one is online in North Korea, or that download speeds there are so slow that this is beyond their capability, or the internet is so controlled that nobody could take part?

It is heartening to see that nearly 500 people in Myanmar managed to make the download, and even Bhutan got 55. Not surprisingly, most of Africa only made three-digit totals or less. It is strange that the OPEC nations didn't do so well, but it's possibly revealing that Iraq and Afghanistan struggled to come even close to the yet-to-be-demolished-by-the-axis-of-blunder country they flank: Iran.

I started wondering about density of countries, the economies that more populated places can support, and how that might relate to connectivity and technology uptake. Sifting the SpreadFirefox forum, I found this site that lets you sort countries alphabetically or by population, area and density - elsewhere on the site there is a map of computer language use, and google earth overlays to download too. From these figures, someone has already started analysing the Firefox download statistics. Of course, these figures can't be considered an assesment of pure connectivity. They could also be taken as an overview of where there is most resistance to Microsoft's Explorer monopoly. Perhaps North Korea are all happily downloading things at terrific rates on Internet Explorer because Bill Gates has become friendly with Dear Leader Kim Jong-il, much like google have become chummy with China?

I should acknowledge that it is quite probable my reading of the Firefox map has been influenced by Fiona Jack's Missing Peoples project, which lists the nationalities NOT included in the Merriam Webster's dictionary. The dictionary, it seems, has a conspicuous geographical blind-spot!

Image: Map of international character usage, downloaded today from World Gazetteer.

No comments:


Art from Space is an exploration of art-related phenomena that manifests in interesting ways on Google’s aerial maps. It is also an experiment in curatorial practice; collecting, presenting and contextualising items in ways that users can explore, free of curator-imposed framing and sequencing. This blog is Art from Space’s developmental musings made public, where items are introduced to the project in real time, rather than awaiting the grand unveiling of a completed exhibition. Specific locations of interest are highlighted in CAPS and linked to a map for further exploration. Visit the mother ship HERE.