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10 Amazing Visualizations of Social Networks

10 Amazing Visualizations of Social Networks

networkviz

Social networks are dynamic and constantly evolving. While we can easily identify our friends and acquaintances within a network, it’s much harder for us to comprehend how members in a social network are connected and how those connections influence a particular network.

Fortunately, there are now a number of people that have taken the time to create stunning visualizations of various social networks that give us a better understanding of how networks function. We take a look at our ten favourite visualizations of social networks.

Fidg’t’ : Visualize

fidgt

The Fidg’t Visualizer allows you to play around with your network. You interface with the Visualizer through Flickr and LastFM tags, using any tag to create a Magnet. Once a Tag Magnet is created, members of the network will gravitate towards it if they have photos or music with that same Tag.

ICCARUS: scouta.com

Click here to watch the video.

A 3D visualization of real-time data from scouta.com. It shows the relationship between members, friends, groups and items.

looks del.icio.us

looksdelicious

The looks del.icio.us project is my first attempt to combine graphics design with programming. The concept is to see how users develop and sustain their tagging methodologies on del.icio.us.

Myspace attitudes

myspace-attitudes

Two big (200cm x 90cm, 80 x 36 inch) posters show the variety and attitudes of members from an internet community like MySpace.

http://www.visualcomplexity.com/vc/project_details.cfm?id=598&index=598&domain=

IRC arcs

irc-arcs

A simple visualization of IRC communication behavior: Who is talking to whom? Or, more appropriately: Who is namedropping whom?

Biblical Social Network

bible-viz

Soon after finishing the cross-references arc visualization, I set out to create a new data set derived from the Bible’s text. This time I wanted to better capture the story, most notably the people and places, and the interactions between them. I did this by building a list of biblical names (2619 in total) and parsing a digital copy of the King James Bible. Each time two names occurred in the same verse, a connection was created between them. This produced essentially a social network of people and places. Because such relationships had no ordering or structure (unlike the cross references), I used a spatial clustering algorithm I developed for one of my other projects. This process causes related entities and highly connected groups to coalesce. I themed the output like an old piece of parchment.

Wells Fargo: Network Environment

wells-fargo

The image shows the 2 Step Network Environment of Wells Fargo, the second most influential actor in our Network Analysis of California’s Fortune 500 companies. We were interested which director interlock connections make Wells Fargo so powerful and how it is embedded in the greater California/ US industry. Director interlock shows how companies are connected with one another through their board of directors, i.e. Apple and Disney are connected through Steve Jobs. 2 Steps mean that directors on the board of Wells Fargo are connected to all companies displayed in a “friend of a friend” relation. This reveals compelling new insights and business opportunities.

OS Relationships

osrelationships
OPENSTUDIO is an experimental web service on the art market and creative digital communities. It exposes the traditionally opaque process of valuation, marketing and exchange of creative production, developing over time. In doing so, OPENSTUDIO provides a dynamic participatory space for learning about the underlying mechanisms surrounding pricing and exchange of art.

flowerGarden

flowergarden

flowerGarden is an web-based software application, produced in Flash, for real-time social network and conversation visualization. It was used at the 3-day Bodies in Play summit in Banff, May 2005, at which the 50 participants were invited to input information about who they spoke to and what they discussed during the duration of the event. The visualization was projected on a large screen in the main summit venue to reflect the current state of the social network and discussion space of the summit.

Power Players: Pinpoint and Predict

powerpoint

In a large European country we tried to predict who might be invited onto a governmental advisory board to help re-shape policies within a certain sector. Publicly available data about political functions and professional/scientific interaction were analysed. Ex post our methods proved very stable.

You can find a number of other great visualizations from fas-research here.

Many of the visualizations above can be found at the excellent site, visual complexity. If you want more information on data visualization, then check out these great blogs:

infosthetics.com
neoformix.com
flowingdata.com
anonymousprof.com
datamining.typepad.com

If you’re interested in mapping out your own social network, then have a look at the infovis wiki or try out a few of the tools on this site (just don’t ask me how to use them).

The ManyEyes tool by IBM also provides an easy way to map your connections. We used it to create a visualization of the top 100 StumbleUpon users.

Our question to you is, if you could visualize any social network from any time in history, what would you investigate and why?

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114 Readers have left their thoughts

  1. I’ve worked on this piece, although not as graphical, it’s quite useful!

    http://idletogether.com/ufo/digg/

  2. very nice list! I think you get a whole different idea of what it is when you see the images. I like also the image that gives you TouchGraph about a site, although is not exactly a social net, but it´s also interesting

  3. Very nice visualizations. What I would like to see is whether there are some mathematical functions that repeatedly show up in such data.

  4. Craig

    I want a social network map of George Bush and Dick Cheney, because it would offer indisputable evidence that these two men have connections that are at odds with the well-being of the US.

  5. Hi Nicolas - that looks really nice. Out of interest, how long did it take you make?

  6. Maybe in this post can also go: http://www.tweetwheel.com/

  7. Amazing visualizations. It reminds me of old fractal expressions.

  8. Mind blowing!

  9. Here is another very cool Twitter visualizer from Tuesday’s SoCal earthquake:

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2008/07/twitter-earthqu.html

  10. Hi Chris,

    2 evenings.

    cheers
    nic.

  11. I am also working on this piece called Digg’s Mob. It pulls live comments from Digg regardless of the post.

    a proof of concept here:
    http://glimpsr.com/diggMob/

    subscribe to my blog at idletogether.com/ and noben.org/ to keep in touch :)

    cheers
    nic

  12. Amazing Visualization

  13. Some of that is just sheer genius, there are some extremely clever people out there!

  14. Interesting, i like what you have done

  15. amazing visualisations, what more can i say!?

  16. With the growing number of networks and friends across the internet, it was going to be very difficult to manage all that. I am happy to know all this and infact I am using a few. It is very helping and supportive.

  17. few weeks ago i’ve built this interactive visualization of soundcloud:
    http://radioclouds.com
    it’s kinda mix between graphing and online radio. audio/visual graphing, sotosay…

  18. these rock!

  19. Very very good Thank you ..

  20. That would be a good network to analyse. It would also be quite interesting to map out who is funding the major political candidates. Thanks for your comment.

  21. Hi phpleo, I was going to include tweetwheel, but it wasn’t loading when I tried to use it. It is a really nice project though.

  22. hi matas - that looks like a really cool project too. Did it take you long?

  23. Hi marquee hire, adelaide, website development,bespoke shirts, Happy Times, Dave Saunders, istioselida, Neal “thePuck” Jansons and everyone else, thanks for your comments. Glad you liked the selection. It’s also worth checking out the other sites linked in the article if you want to see some other data visualization projects.

  24. Thanks for the link Mark, that looks really cool.

  25. I love the graphs. Here’s my answer to your question at the end of the post.

    In a previous life, I studied for a Ph.D in high-modernist English Literature. I’d love to see a social network visualization that presents three layers of overlapping data:

    1) a visualization of James Joyce’s personal social network
    2) a visualization of works in his library and notebooks
    3) a visualization of works referenced in Ulyssess

    That’d be something that would leave me drooling for days.I’m not sure what I’d do with it. It’d just be really, really neat to explore (like getting lost within a Mandelbrot set).

    Then again, an overlay map of Thomas Jefferson’s social network and his library would also be pretty interesting too.

  26. Matas

    thanks Chris,

    It took about a week of coding, although divided in 2 months :)

    The Soundcloud api seems to work pretty well now, and already thought about extending the radioclouds with more relevant data.

  27. Hey! Thats something really wonderful you did here. I was shocked when i saw those images because something like this came in mind some time before but never thought to implement it but, you did it. This is my first visit and first comment and I think I will come often to this place. Keep up the good work.

  28. Really, it’s much harder for us to comprehend how members in a social network are connected and how those connections influence a particular network. Interesting blog.

  29. What a beautiful visualitions! Very nice idea.

  30. Nice list, great visualizations. Interesting is that i couldn’t find one for the Facebook. That would be nice to see also.

  31. very nice list! I think you get a whole different idea of what it is when you see the images. I like also the image that gives you TouchGraph about a site, although is not exactly a social net, but it´s also interesting

  32. With the growing number of networks and friends across the internet, it was going to be very difficult to manage all that. I am happy to know all this and infact I am using a few. It is very helping and supportive.

  33. Wow - those are awesome! The Wells Fargo visualization is really interesting.

  34. The web is become a much more visible place these days. It’s great to see so many talented people designing some fantastics websites. I still believe content is important but having some great graphics to back your message up can really add extra punch.

  35. All the designs are excellent.
    For me “Wells Fargo: Network Environment” design is very difficult.

  36. Sounds great looking forward to it ! this is really nice mate! good job! Thanx!

  37. Really cool stuff!!!

  38. These graphs are pretty amazing. I am wondering if you have done something similar for Spanish Speaking Social Networks.

    Thanks for sharing

  39. beautiful visualisations! cool post.

  40. Its amazing. You have worked a lot for it. These visualizations are very interesting. keep posting.

  41. fantastic list! I think you get a whole different idea of what it is when you see the images. I like also the image that gives you TouchGraph about a site, although is not exactly a social net, but it´s also interesting

  42. cool visualizations, you have a nice ideas ;)

  43. I find these visualizations highly useful. What will it take to get companies to use information like this to make business decisions?

  44. Looks awesome.I would like to appreciate the way of presenting the artilce.Its really interesting to read and comment on..

  45. Nice list, great visualizations. Interesting is that i couldn’t find one for the Facebook. That would be nice to see also.

  46. Hey! Thats something really wonderful you did here. I was shocked when i saw those images because something like this came in mind some time before but never thought to implement it but, you did it. This is my first visit and first comment and I think I will come often to this place. Keep up the good work. Greets Holz

  47. Good informative and nice social networks.

  48. wow! I love these visualisations! thanks posted them.

  49. this is an amazing set of pictures. I am plannning to print it on my Tshirts. That will be awesome. Thanks again for efforts made to collate these pictures.

  50. Its really interesting to know about different things going round the world. As if I am new to the topic called venture capital I need to do research on it.

  51. Beautiful, extremely interest and useful. I have to digest some of this, and then come back to take in and digest the wealth of comments.

    Thank you

  52. amazing vaisualization, genius

  53. These are purely incredible.

  54. Social networking sites are more popular so that everyone can visit those sites as such. If we submit the sites in most popular sites then we can get traffic with in less time. Thanks for sharing.

  55. As a Fine artist and poet I am interested in images that begin to imply meaning ‘10 visualizations of Social networks’ is a topical choice to try and visualize any forms of networks links, lines, connections and colors that to come to mind. There is also the world wide web a choice that I seem to be more involved with daily. As web design becomes more popular as a form of advertising a new era of creativity begins if you have any spare time have a look at my web designs at dapedesigns@co.uk. I would be interested to view your comments.

  56. some nice illustrations there, social networks are quirky things!

  57. Some interesting illustrations there!

  58. Seeing these graphs makes you realise why search engines are so keen to incorporate social media into their empires. These kind of stats would be incredibly value in determining relevancy.

  59. It’s amazing how much clearer things are when put into a visual format

  60. Groovy! If only everything could be graphed in such a mesmerising fashion. I never knew such tools existed. I think of Spirograph when seeing them for some reason…

  61. wow.. these are incredible :)

  62. I can’t even begin to imagine how people come up with visualizations like these. It does help make the connections of things clearer to understand though.

  63. these a simply amazing visualisation!

  64. These are very intricate and complex. I especially like the IRC Arcs and Fidg’t. Really cool stuff.

  65. That´s a terrific visualization!!
    it´s a fantastica way to understand and visualize how social media works and they interact.

    Great post!

  66. I hope to see similar visualization tools for latest social media sites like twitter and plurk. It would be a difficult task to invent such system but I think it can help a lot to see users behavior in more clearer way.

  67. This is the only post of its kind which I could read so far and even I didn’t hear about it ever in my life. I am fascinated to see those pictures and I think they can represent something in more effective way.

  68. This is a great list–very cool stuff. We’re trying to make the visualization we’ve been working on as functional as it is striking. This one is embedded at the bottom of the page and you can manipulate it to whatever look is most useful for you.

  69. Hey guys, this is very interesting topic, there in also this article(interesting too) http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~jheer/vizster/early_design/

  70. Web 2.0 properties are so good in communication and in results that they can’t be expressed. I like this visualization because I have never seen this before.

  71. Great, some classic designs here!

  72. Web 2.0 is a very good visualizer.the Visualizer through Flickr and LastFM tags, using any tag to create a Magnet. Once a Tag Magnet is created, members of the network will gravitate towards it if they have photos or music.Thanks for sharing.

  73. Are these visualations are fit with other players? For example Winamp.

  74. I make sure the most important thing of the day gets done first before I move to small chores.

  75. Two or three interuptions make me lose track and I find it difficult to return back to my planned tasks. What do you think ( to all the readers) I should do to get rid of this habit? Any suggestions are welcome :)

  76. Great post as always Leo. Even I suffer from the same problem. I organize my todo list, begin the day on a positive note and somewhere down the line I lose motivation to complete the tasks. At most I get two to three tasks executed on my task list. My job is such that I get lot of adhoc work and get called to meetings that are scheduled on a short notice.

  77. Hiddenbrains.com use to work on customizing open source applications to meet our offshore clients need at various critical business stages. We provide customized open source system implementation to reduce the business complexity as well as cost to the business. We provide open source services .

  78. Jay

    Interesting ideas. Thanks for sharing!

  79. The picture in this post is looking excellent. Thanks

  80. This is an excellent quality post with lots of good picture. thanks for posting

  81. GENIUS! Those are amazing visualizations. It really gets you to understand how relationships in the sites given are. If I hadn’t read the article, I wouldn’t have known what it was about! Lol. I was just drawn in by the “pretty pictures”. :D

  82. Wonderful pictures. I’m waiting for more!

  83. I’ll bookmark it. It’s very interesting this topic!

  84. The bible one looks like the easiest to understand, but guess it is also the one that gives you the least information.

  85. Liked all the visualizations but the best one i liked is my space attitudes good thinking good creativity

  86. All these vizualizations of social networks are amazing. Thanks!

  87. Splendid vizualizations of social networks. Well done guys!

  88. flowerGarden is by far my favorite out of all the Visualizations! I could look at these all day if you had some more.

  1. Anonymous - Jul 31st, 2008


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