So with the help of my very cool friend Jeremy V. we’ve remixed the Firefox download map.
The official download map shows us the absolute number of downloads per country. From a marketing perspective this was a great idea. However, since writing the post in which I mashed up the Pentagon’s New Map with the Firefox pledge map I’ve been wondering if their is a correlation between the number of pledges/downloads of Firefox and how “connected” a country is. To find out, we’ve recreated the Mozilla download map but changed the variables. Using population census and internet user stats from Wikipedia.
Remix 1: % of population that downloaded firefox
Remix 2: % of internet users that downloaded firefox
Lots to dive into here. Most notable is how India and China’s strong showing in the initial download map is obviously nothing more than a function of their sheer size. In the later two maps they do not fare as well. The fact that other browsers dominate the marketplace in these countries may also play a role. This is certainly the case in China (though I’m less certain about India). Either way though Firefox’s presence in China and India is a lot weaker than the download map suggests. What, if anything, can be done about this is worth debating.
The biggest surprise has to be Iran. It would appear that Iran is anything but the insular isolated country the western media likes to portray it as. Indeed, outside of the western world Iran has one of the highest download rates per capita. This would suggest Iran is quite well connected (and, I suspect, deeply mistrustful of MicroSoft). This should pose a challenge to Barnett’s thesis, in which connectedness should make a country safer to the international system. John Harris who wrote an excellent critique of Barnett’s thesis, would argue that Iran isn’t perceived as a threat because it is disconnected (it clearly is connected). Instead, what makes it a threat is that a ruling elite strives (however unsuccessfully) to keep it as disconnected from the rest of the world as possible. This creates tensions and challenges that exasperate the complex challenge that is Iran.
One of the most interesting impacts of open source software is that it may help countries – especially those transitioning into modern economies – increase their connectiveness. These maps seem to confirm this hypothesis. A scan of the % of the population that downloaded Firefox shows a robust number of people in emerging economies – especially in Latin America, Eastern Europe and to a lesser degree, South East Asia. Indeed, the government’s of many Central and Eastern Europe countries have mandated that their public services use open source solutions where ever possible. With many countries in the region counting download rates at over 2% of the population(!!!!) Eastern and Central Europe really is emerging as a dominant market place for Open Source solutions.
Ultimately, what is notable is that Core countries do by and large well, Gap countries do poorly and countries that sit around much of the perimeter of Barnett’s line separating the “gap from “the core” score in between. For example, the deep pits of disconnectedness are focused around the Stans and Africa, broken up only by Iran and Israel. Consequently, in my opinion the the Firefox download map gives us data that validate Barnett’s thesis. The bigger question is what can open source generally, and Firefox specifically, do to help change the map?
1. Since being slashdotted I’ve received many comments and emails both encouraging and critical. Please keep sending them and adding to the analysis here. Many heads are better than one and so please do contribute
2. I apologize that data for some countries (like Iceland) is not available on this map. Recreating the map wasn’t easy, and it was all in our (and really Jeremy’s) spare time so we did the best we could.