Percentage of Individuals Using Internet Around the World: 2000-2013


Using UNdata – a data access system to UN databases, I found data relevant to Internet use around the world. With this data I wanted to analyze:

  • How has Internet access changed over time?
  • What countries have the highest/lowest Internet use percentage?
  • Are growth patterns of use congruent with the most recent statistics?

Before working with the data in Tableau, I found three visualizations to inspire me. I thought that the best way to understand this information would be to represent the values on a world map. The Oxford Internet Institute (OII) created a map that resized countries based upon Internet users is 2013. Their description: “This map shows the total number of Internet users in a country (size of the country) as well as the percentage of the population that has Internet access (shade of the country)”.  I liked their use of deepening shades to express values as well as how they incorporated sizing. Following this trend, I found another visualization from OII – “The anonymous Internet” – which explores use of the anonymous network Tor via cartogram. Again, I was drawn to their use of shading to express values as well as size. Finally, on Visually I found a map of the Top Languages on the Internet. I found this color scheme to be the most appealing (shades of blue versus shades of red) and I feel that it influenced my visualizations in that regard as well as the layout – a world map – and the information being presented on it. Overall, I like that these visualizations used color sparingly and in a manner that was monochromatic, promoting accessibility and ease of understanding which definitely inspired my work in this lab.

For this lab my data set was from UNdata. It consisted of 4278 records for the percentage of individuals using the Internet for 211 countries, for forty-two select years (ranging from 1960 to 2013). I created my visualizations using Tableau Public version 9.1. When beginning the lab I took a few moments to refamiliarize myself with Tableau and make a few test visualizations. These can be found on my Tableau profile. Once I felt comfortable with the software, I worked to create various map-based visualizations to see what I found best suited my data and my research goals. I was interested in more current data so I decided to filter the years to a most recent timeline, choosing to cover only fourteen years (2000-2013) versus forty-two. From there, I used the “Show Me” feature to guide me in making filled maps. These need one geographic dimension and one measure; I dropped the dimension  “Country or Area” and the value “Measure Values” into the “Marks” section. “Measure Values” is associated with color so, as I saw in my inspiration visualizations, the hue gets deeper as the number (percentage of people using the Internet) increases. I edited the color to be blue; the blue is monochromatic, and is not representing any fine detail so I found it to be a good choice. The blue is divided into ten hues, growing from light to dark as the percentage increases for each country. I was able to filter the years even further to only show the beginning of my desired timeline – 2000 (click image for interactive model).

internet use - 2000

Following this I created a map the only showed my final year, 2013, using the same filtering method. With these two maps, one is able to see immediately the shift of Internet use between these two points in time that I wanted to examine (click image for interactive model):

Sheet 5 (1)

However, this was not a true analysis or representation of my data. I wanted to be able to see changes over the fourteen years. So I, I placed the “Year” value into “Pages”, filtering it to only show 2000-2013 as I mentioned earlier. Now, users are able to scroll through maps, year by year, that show changing percents Internet use. 

Click image below for the interactive model:

Sheet 5 (2)

Internet access has only increased over time. Over fourteen years, Internet use rose from at most, fifty-two percent of the population to almost one hundred percent (96.55) in 2013. Increase was fairly steady for most countries. For example, Brazil who began at 2.87 percent and in 2013 rose to 51.60, an average of 6.96% increase per year. It almost covers all hues on the value scale. Countries that had the highest percentages in 2000 maintained this throughout the years. I found it interesting that Scandinavia consistently had the highest rates and was at almost one hundred percent in 2013. I would like to investigate this further as to why this may be the case. I am also curious as to what their percentage is in 2015. Especially when areas such as the United Kingdom and the United States have not even reached ninety percent yet. I am also curious to explore countries that till have very low percentages (ten percent or fewer) and what social, political, etc. situations may be effecting this. Some countries did not even have percentages provided until at least five or six years in (Australia, Mongolia). What circumstances caused that?

If I was to expand further on this topic I would like to use these maps as supplemental tools for a more in-depth examination of worldwide Internet use. I would like to be able to provide users with more information to explain and support this data. Just looking at this data on its own is interesting, and having interactive maps that you can scroll through is entertaining and engaging, but I feel as though this data on its own is not as powerful of a tool as it could be if it was supporting a more specific message. Working with this data raised a lot of questions for me, especially living in an environment were Internet is essential for my every day activities – or at least it feels that way. Having not having access to the Internet is not having access to limitless amounts of information. I think data like this can be used to see how and why some countries have such a high amount of percentage of use and why some are so low, and how this is linked to other issues and concerns in the world today.