[Photo] What Does A Social Network Look Like?

(Jeffrey Heer / Computer Science Division, University of California at Berkeley)
(Jeffrey Heer / Computer Science Division, University of California at Berkeley)

Jeffrey Heer and Danah Boyd are co-founders of the powerful program Vizster, a software which allows users to visualize online social networks in clean, interactive maps. As we see in their video demonstration of the software, visualizations that are generated can be used to highlight links between any two people in the web, estimate members of social “clusters”, and even colour-code nodes based on any parameter – such as gender or relationship status. Granted, all the data needs to be provided by the user via an XML file describing the network or from a custom MySQL database. However, if you are technologically inclined, you can use Vizster to create cool graphics such as the one shown above. That blue blob is Jeffrey Heer’s highlighting of his network on Friendster to “3 hops out” – including himself, his friends, his friends’ friends, and his friends’ friends’ friends. There are a whopping 47,471 people connected by 432,430 friendship relations included in the final network. This image was generated ten years ago, when Facebook was barely a seed of an idea – imag. It’s a very visual reminder that we are all connected, and are becoming more so, thanks to technology. With contact a few clicks of a mouse away, we are criss-crossing the world with unlikely chains of association and friendship – a trend which will only accelerate in the years to come.

See more at the NSF’s webpage, or check out Vizster’s website.


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