Co.Design

Infographics of the Day: Which Country Is Most Plugged In?

China? The U.S.? Anyone in Africa?

Depends on what you mean. So Column Five Media have stuffed the many ways to measure "plugged in" -- from broadband subscriptions to how fast smart phones process data -- into a multi-part infographic that visualizes who excels at what tech and who's still living in Precambrian times.

As the designers write on their blog, the graphic is meant to show that "our world is more connected than ever." You can see it in full here. We've broken it down into its component parts below.

Internet users
China leads, both in terms of raw numbers (cleverly represented by WiFi bars) and as a percentage of users worldwide. The United States is second.

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Broadband
China also has more broadband subscribers than any other country. Here, we've got a good visual of bandwidth ranges around the world; note that Africa is almost completely gray.

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Cell phones
India leads in using cells to the exclusion of land lines.

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Smart phones
They're fastest in Western Europe, but just by a hair (over Japan). The United States comes in a distant third. A nice little breakout bar chart in the top right shows how much data each part of the world is expected to crunch in the next few years. That's the Asia-Pacific region in purple, ballooning from less than 500,000 terabytes this year to more than 250,000 terabytes in 2012 -- a sharp visual of China's rapid assent to information superpower (if they could just learn to lift their finger off the censor button).

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It's the only hint of a trend over time, which is too bad. While the infographic gives a clear overview of how we link to each other today, it lacks the temporal context needed to prove its own assertion: that "our world is more connected than ever."

We'd love to see the same information plotted over time. It would give us a better sense of how nations have progressed and maybe even offer some clues on how to lift Africa out of the gray zone.

[Images via Column Five Media]

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