Population Dots Light Up the Internet

We first noticed the unusual traffic on our WorldPopulationHistory.org site on Friday, January 29. By the end of that weekend, we were fielding a flurry of emailed questions from national and international press. While it can take a while for new interactive websites to get noticed, it only takes a handful of influencers to start a viral trend. A Reddit contributor posted the site as an example of great visual data, and before we knew it, Vox.com and the Washington Post’s Wonkblog were picking it up and sharing the site with viewers worldwide. Soon it was showing up on online editions of newspapers and magazines in India, Greece, Spain, Germany, Italy, Finland and the UK.

The media commented on both the World Population video (featured in 6 languages on the site), as well as the interactive features of WorldPopulationHistory.org. The Washington Post, which boasts 3.8 million Facebook followers, described the site as “the rise of humanity, in one mesmerizing map” and implored viewers to “make sure to watch to the end to see the most incredible part – the exponential growth of the world’s population since the Industrial Revolution.”

As a result of the media attention, over half a million people have watched the World Population video animation in the past two weeks. We’re hoping this interest continues and translates into more teachers and students visiting the site. In addition to the interactive map, timeline, and find your “Pop number” features, the site includes lesson plans, contextual readings on population topics and more.