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