Mapping collaborative software




Github is one of the world’s biggest and best-known hosting services for software development projects. The shading of the map illustrates the number of users as a proportion of each country’s Internet population. The circular charts surrounding the two hemispheres depict the total number of GitHub users (left) and commits (right) per country. The uneven geographies on GitHub can possibly shed light on the ways in which different countries are being enrolled into a global knowledge economy.


The data in this map consists of all public events logged by GitHub in 2013. The data are freely available from the GitHub Archive.

We analysed over 65 million commits, made by about 1.1 million users active in 2013 (i.e., users that registered at least one “PushEvent”). Only 26% of users (accounting for over 44% of the commits) specified a location that we were able to match to an actual place. We employed a script based on the Unlock Places service to geolocate the locations in people’s profiles.


GitHub has become one of the largest web-based hosting services for software development projects, and is used by 3.5 million users worldwide. Its global distribution is strongly correlated with the number of Internet users in a country.

North America and Europe each account for about one third of the total number of GitHub users. The platform is particularly popular in Northern Europe, where Iceland and Sweden each have more than 50 GitHub users for every 100,000 Internet users in the country, as well as in Eastern Europe. The United States, New Zealand and Australia are the countries where the service is most popular outside Europe (they have about 35 GitHub users for every 100,000 Internet users).

The remaining third of GitHub users are mostly located in Asia (17% of the total). Singapore (27 GitHub users per 100,000 Internet users), and Taiwan (10 GitHub users per 100,000 Internet users) are two of the biggest per capita users. A lot of usage comes from China, but on a per-capita basis the country isn’t a heavy user (fewer than 3 GitHub users for every 100,000 Internet users).

The Middle East and North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa together represent less than 1% of GitHub users, and just about 1% of commits. Switzerland alone counts almost as many GitHub users as the Middle East and North Africa region, and more than Sub-Saharan Africa.

Not only are North America and Europe home to a majority of users, but those users make more contributions than their counterparts in the rest of the world. Each region is home to over 38% of commits to the platform. The United States, for instance, is home to 31% of users but over 35% of commits. Similarly, the Netherlands is home to 1.7% of the users but 2.4% of the commits, and Switzerland is home to 0.9% of the users but 1.4% of the commits.

We see the opposite dynamic in the rest of the world. India, for instance, accounts for 3.6% of users, but only 1.7% of commits.

In sum, the uneven geographies of collaborative software development likely tell us a lot about where our global knowledge economy is being performed. Africa and the Middle East, in particular, have far fewer people accessing open software tools than would be expected given their numbers of Internet users. Not only is a lot of the world not accessing software made available on GitHub, but they also aren’t contributing to it: a sign that this facet of our global knowledge economy remains heavily based in some of the world’s traditional hubs of codified knowledge.

The anonymous Internet



This cartogram illustrates users of Tor: one of the largest anonymous networks on the Internet.


The data are freely and openly available on the Tor Metrics Portal, which provides information about the number of users per country joining their network every day. The average number of users has been calculated over a one-year period, prior to August 2013, when malware Sefnit “took the Tor Network by storm”, starting to use Tor for its communications and thus disrupting Tor’s usage statistics.


Tor is an opensource project promoting online anonymity through free software and volunteer collaboration. The Tor network consists of more than five thousand nodes. Tor users can connect to the network and have their Internet data routed through the network before reaching any server or webpage, thus the latter are not able to distinguish between Tor users or locate them.

Tor is the most popular and well known network of its kind, and it is used world-wide by over 750,000 Internet users every day. This is about the size of a small country; half-way between the Internet populations of Luxembourg and Estonia.

Over half of Tor users are located in Europe, which is also the region with the highest penetration, as the service is used by an average of 80 per 100,000 European Internet users. Italy in particular accounts for over 76,000 users a day, which is about one fifth of the entire European Tor daily user base. Italy is second only to the United States in terms of average number of users, as over 126,000 people access the Internet through Tor every day from the United States. The service is popular throughout the whole European region, with a high penetration in Moldova, as well as in less populous states: about a hundred Internet users connect to Tor every day from each of San Marino, Monaco, Andorra, and Liechtenstein, despite their small Internet populations.

When looking at the number of Tor users as a percentage of the larger Internet population, the Middle East and North Africa has the second highest rate of usage, with an average of over 60 per 100,000 Internet users utilizing the service. Tor is particularly popular in Israel, which accounts for more Tor users than India, while having less than 4% of its Internet users. The service is also very popular in Iran, which accounts for the largest number of Tor users outside Europe and the United States, and counts 50% more users than the United Kingdom, despite having only one third of its Internet population.

The geography of Tor tells us much about potentials for anonymity on the Internet. As ever more governments seek to control and censor online activities, users face a choice to either perform their connected activities in ways that adhere to official policies, or to use anonymity to bring about a freer and more open Internet.