Here's one of the most interesting Twitter map that I've seen recently. This map shows both where people are tweeting from and which language they're using to tweet (using Google’s open-sourcing of the Compact Language Detector).
The first thing that this map tells us is that we could almost overlay this map with a satellite view of the world at night or even airplane traffic. So it confirms that the people are using twitter and the web mostly where they live and work, delocalization thanks to NTIC is a myth. It also reminds us about the inequality of access... where's Africa on this map? There's a digital divide and it's clearly visible.
The second striking thing here is that there are many more languages than English (grey on the map).
The explosive growth of the micro-blogging service’s global popularity is emblematic of a trend affecting the entire internet: it’s becoming less American, and less Anglophone. The most recent numbers I could find, indicate a drop in US-based ‘unique users’ from 62% in June 2009 to just over 50% in January 2010.
Frank Jacobs, source here.
And finally, even if countries borders are still clearly visible there's some interesting information appearing that shows how people are using different languages in specific geographical areas. For instance Catalan instead of Spanish or the French cluster in Canada or even the blurred border between Mexico and the US.
More people live outside their country of birth today than at any time in history, and the numbers of people who move across international borders are expected to continue to rise in the future.
Source UN, http://bit.ly/zKO87c
I believe this is an interesting sign for anyone working and designing softwares or services on the web. Being myself born in the Caribbeans, having lived in France, Italy and now living in Hungary I recently realized how bad most of online services handle these situations. I'm very often annoyed by Google docs UI showing up in Hungarian, search results filtered according to my location when it's not relevant and iTunes store for instance is shockingly bad at it.
Think about how painful is to move bank accounts, phone numbers, internet access but also downloaded apps, music and movies across countries. It does open some interesting perspectives when you take into account that the people that use your product might speak a different language than the official language at their current location, might also pay in a different currency and might want to continue using your service while moving abroad across different countries.
Full size map available here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkingsf/6277163176/in/photostream