Sympathetic Stupid

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Vanishing Point

This site - Vanishing Point - is proof that Flash is useful for something other than stupid splash screen animations which make a site take fifteen minutes to load. (This post is proof that I really should be doing more work.) Thanks to WorldChanging for the link.

It's a map of the world with shading proportional to the 'visibility' of each country. They've taken the last 50 days worth of top news stories in the G7 countries and pulled out all the references to other countries to get a measure of their visibility to the population of the G7.

Africa disappears from the map. The G7 nations themselves are darkest. There's a fair bit of Russia, China and India, and of course Iraq, Iran and Israel. Australia is kind of dim. (No, I mean on the map.) As the WorldChanging article says, it'd be interesting to have a better breakdown. Anyone want to bet that 99% of US stories aren't purely local?

It's a valiant effort. Reading the methodology, they've looked at just 11 papers in the 7 countries, so it's not exactly thorough. I'd be interested to know what percentage of the population that could possibly relate to. And the system's fully automated, with data coming straight from the RSS feeds. This also skews the results, as obviously only the top few stories are put on the feed (looks like the NY Times has only about 6 stories a day, for instance).

But maybe this evens out. I reckon the vast majority of the population has a small appetite for news. If they're watching half-hour TV bulletins instead of reading the paper, they'll probably only get about 6 stories. And, despite the hype that papers are a dead medium, there's still only a small percentage getting news from the Internet.

On another topic:
Incidentally, Gideon Haigh is a magnificent writer. He just happens to be writing about cricket here.