Title text: There are also a lot of global versions of this map showing traffic to English-language websites which are indistinguishable from maps of the location of internet users who are native English speakers.
In the comic, by comparing three graphs, Cueball comes to the conclusion that the audience (presumably the owners/operators of "our site") should adjust their content or advertising to cater to Martha Stewart and furry porn fans. The actual reason the graphs are same is they all match the population concentration in the U.S., because there is no statistically-significant relation between geographic location and any of the mentioned sub-populations.
A heatmap (the term having been coined and trademarked by Cormac Kinney) is a graph showing three-dimensional data on a two-dimensional image, with each pixel's colour representing the value of the data at that position. It does not necessarily have anything to do with heat, but a heatmap may resemble a thermal image. In this comic, red represents the highest numerical values, then yellow and green, with white the lowest values, in all three maps.
Population maps do correspond partially to thermal images of the region represented, due to the thermal emissions of both humans themselves, and human activities (e.g. cars and factories); cities are typically a few degrees warmer than surrounding rural areas. However there are many other factors which would affect the temperature of a region, including weather, climate, local geography and time of day.
The title text reflects a similar situation in world maps where the website written in English is read by English-speaking users no matter the location, because their ISP and search providers direct them primarily to English websites, so the visitors' geographic graph matches the graph of the global English-speaking population.
- [Three near-identical charts of the 48 contiguous United States are shown with heatmaps depicting population density. The first chart is labelled "Our site's users," the second chart is labelled "Subscribers to Martha Stewart Living," and the third chart is labelled "Consumers of furry pornography." Cueball is standing with a stick pointing at the charts.]
- Cueball: The business implications are clear.
- Pet peeve #208:
- Geographic profile maps which are basically just population maps
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