According to IA, the map depicts the
333 most influential Web domains and the 111 most influential internet people [in a visualization based on] the Tokyo Metro map.I'm actually more interested in the allegorical aspect of this project than the actual content; how did they match up web domains with Tokyo Metro stops? They give this example: "Twitter is in Shibuya this year, as Shibuya is the spot with the bigggest buzz." Hard to draw any generalizable principles from that case. Like, in what sense does deviantart.com resemble Ueno station? Is the area around Ueno populated by a lot of manga characters and amateur photographers?
Domains are carefully selected by the iA research team through dialogue with map enthusiasts. Each domain is evaluated based on traffic, revenue, age and the company that owns it. The iA design team assigns these selected domains to individual stations on the Tokyo Metro map in ways that complement the characters of each.
Regardless, the folks at IA know what they're about when it comes to extending an allegory; just about everything in this visualization is, as the semioticians like to say, a signifier. To wit: a station's height represents a site's "success," where success "refers not only to traffic, but to revenue and trend." The width of a station "represents the stability of the company behind its domain" - Digg gets a wide base; 4chan, not so much. And each of the lines represent a certain type of site, as you can see in the key to the left there.
They're selling posters of the thing, but only about 1,000 of them. If I was you, and also was desperately keen on getting my hands on one of these, I would be irked by their transparent effort to foment demand by artificially limiting supply of their product. In a fit of pique, I would then go buy a poster from Le Dernier Cri which, though completely unrelated to both webs and trends, has a bunch of fun stuff. That would show 'em.
Or, you could just go here and see the beta version for yourself. Here's a detail: