Thursday, September 20, 2018

Maps show the connectedness of counties, divisions in states as measured by where your Facebook friends live a””

How connected is your county to other places in America? Measured by Facebook friends in April 2016, the connections and the borders that define communities are very interesting, and sometimes revealing. Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui of The New York Times report on an analysis of Facebook connections by economists at Harvard University, Princeton University, New York University and Facebook. They found that geography still rules, especially in rural areas, but in ways that might be surprising, or at least intriguing, in some of those places. The data generated two bmasic types of maps. The first shows connectedness between counties; the darker the color, the greater the relative likelihood that any two people living in two different counties are connected on Facebook. Sometimes, state lines make a big difference, as the map above shows.

History can make a difference. Two maps show the continuing connections between counties in the Mississippi Delta and Milwaukee (Chicago is similar) and those where the Dust Bowl drove their ancestors to Kern County, California. "Oil-producing Kern County today is also closely tied" to North Dakota's oil patch, the Times notes.

The story has several similar maps. Its other type of map divides the country into two, different three, four, 10, 20, 50, 100, 150, 200 and 435 parts, the last figure being the number of congressional districts. Those maps are intriguing because they show connections between states and divisions within states. Here's an example of the latter:

Finally, the Times generated a map showing that "some of the most economically distressed parts of the country appear to be the most disconnected: Among the 10 U.S. counties with the highest share of friends within 50 miles, six are in Kentucky." We suspect that has something to do with the state’s prevalence of small counties.

For a larger version of any map, click on it.

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