Virtually yours

28Feb10

Can our virtual lives serve as a sociological tool? Pete Warden thinks so.

The former Apple engineer—who analyzes mountains of data just for the sheer joy of it—has turned his loving eye toward Facebook.

Over the past year, Warden has gathered data from 210 million public Facebook profiles. And he’s seen some pretty striking patterns.

Most surprising (to me, anyway) was the finding that most of us don’t venture very far from home—physically or virtually. If his findings are correct, we don’t seem to be taking much advantage of the Internet’s global reach. Hell, most of us aren’t even leaving our neighborhoods. (Good news for Applebee’s, I suppose …)

The data also seems to suggest a strong regional correlation to religious expression. In my home of Stayathornia, for instance, “God tends to be low down the top 10 fan pages if she shows up at all.” Instead, we seem to favor beer and sports. Hmmm. I feel a plague of locusts coming on.

Anyway … I’ll sheepishly admit that, as intriguing as the findings may have been, my favorite part of Warden’s entire study was his virtual regions’ names. I’ve never been to Mormonia, and I’ve visited Socalistan only a couple of times. Maybe that’s why I’ve been dubbed a Stayathornian.



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