Data visualization is all the rage these days, usually these sites are an interesting exercise in rehashing someone else’s data which is interesting to look at and think about for a moment and then quickly forgotten. So it is good to see a site that brings something new to the table, something that actually informs as well as amuses. I’m talking about the Real Time Media Map from bitly. Here is a little background, bitly.com is a URL shortening service. If you would like to share a web page or a story you find from a media outlet on the web but you don’t want to send a long ungainly URL bitly will produce an “alias”, a shortened version that you can send which is nicer to look at and easier to read but will still get you to the same place. Don’t worry about the technical issues, think of it as a way to share stuff you see on the web. The interesting aspect of this is that the bitly people know what is being shared and where it is coming from. Overlay this data on a map, do it in real time and you have some interesting stuff! Here are a few caveats to think about, this is real time data so it could be skewed by a particularly interesting story, perhaps even by an attractive picture in a story. Also, it might be dependent on bitly’s popularity in a particular demographic or geographic location. For example the numbers might be skewed if Northern California tends to use Google’s service instead. So don’t take it to seriously. Which state shares stories from Fox News the most? Which state shares stories from NPR the most? Think you know? Take a look and see if you are right.