Mapping the “Virtual Worlds”. Thematistico!

Thematic maps are lovely tools for showing data in an easy fashion – and you know us K Zero folks love pretty graphs.

So, using Google Insight we can chuck in search strings and see the global geographical popularity of virtual world related phrases and names. But a single snapshot only tells a piece of the story, so a useful function of Google Insight is viewing data and trends over time.

Let’s do that. Starting with the term “Virtual Worlds” the graphs below show the hotspots thematically. Here’s 2005.

The UK leads global interest (as far as Google Insight is concerned) with virtual worlds in 2005. The US comes in second, with an index almost half of the UK. Next? Canada, followed by Taiwan and a few Western European countries. Here we’re also starting to see the Brazilians fascination with virtual worlds.

The graph shown right is for 2006. The UK is holding its own, still ahead of North America but interestingly Australia comes in at first place. Reasons for countries like Australia and Brazil being popular? I’ll offer my thoughts here. Perhaps very large countries with a small number of large but disparate cities means these people find resonance in virtual spaces as a method of connectivity.

2007 next – the year of Second Life and now we can see continued interest from Eastern Europe, Asian and South America. What’s driving the spreading out? Well, media interest and coverage of course assisted greatly. And also here I think viral messaging from Cosmopolite Early Adopters played a large role.

Last up, 2008 to date. Arguably the year of the KT&T worlds but of course, we’re right in the midst of a revolution in the virtual worlds space so it’s hot (if you’re managed to read this far then you’d probably agree with that.

New Zealand comes out top (I’m sure Mitch over at SmallWorlds will say that’s down to them ;)). Although the Mycosm guys will probably take some credit for Australia (in third place). What else? The US and UK consistently feature highly in search popularity….and notice India popping up…….the next growth area for virtual worlds?

I like to shake things until they’re dry, so expect some more Google Insight graphs using more specific terms and virtual worlds coming very shortly. You can learn more about Google Insight here.

Using insight from this blog, the US is a major element of the readership and of course the current wave of investments into virtual worlds. The graph shown right contains state-by-state comparisons for 2006 (no data exists for 2005). A pretty obvious dominance by New York, with California in second and kinda looks like a lot of the branded deserts islands that were created a year later – a couple of interesting areas and nothing else going on in between.

2007 is shown left. The Apple decays a little and falls down to fourth place. Cali falls as well, with Georgia and Massachusetts taking first and second place Thoughts anyone? And, maybe viral neworks are responsible for the adjoining state growth.

Finally, 2008 to date.

Georgia stays in first place. North Carolina is very close by. New York? Down to sixth. Giff needs to get some temps in to hammer Google searches for a few weeks maybe. Florida is interesting, in fourth place. An indication of an emerging user type maybe?