What happens when you take six months of news coverage from around the world and compile a list of every person mentioned and the people they were mentioned alongside? You get a network of 3 million nodes connected by 42 million links. Based on the GDELT Global Knowledge Graph -- a massive compilation of the world's people, organizations, locations, themes, emotions, and events -- this visualization highlights the 25,000 newsmakers mentioned most frequently from April to October 2013 and the 100,000 connections among them.

The yellow cloud represents coverage of the U.S., with President Barack Obama near its center. Countries and regions make up many of the other, larger clusters. The relative centrality of the clusters, their size, and the strength of their ties to other countries give a sense of how prominent each area has been in news coverage and, by inference, the degree of importance world leaders give them. (Zoom in to see the names of individual newsmakers and their connections.)

This visualization is, in essence, a snapshot of the global conversation -- not only whom we are talking about and how much, but how each separate discussion is connected to every other discussion and the greater whole. It's a new way of gauging what matters to us, and it's just one of the ways in which big data is changing the way we see the world.

Read the rest in the Dec. 2013 print issue.