Organic growth of a social network

By Noah | Add a comment | 

There are many visualizations of social networks, most of which focus on who knows who. They provide a basic view with limited utility. Some visualizations refine this basic view by grouping areas of people who share common contexts (e.g. college, work, etc.). That approach can add some insight through the slightly increased complexity, but it is still a very limited view of the network.

This movie reveals more knowledge by showing not only which individuals know each other, but also when and how the social network formed, by calling out the contexts and individuals responsible for an introduction between two new friends. Visually representing more complexity allows the viewer a deeper understanding of the social dynamics and causalities involved.

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  1. Not sure how you assigned color in this version (based on chronology?), but I was thinking it could be interesting to assign color based on which person facilitated the new connection. In that way, you can see who acts as a stronger social hub by identifying color with the highest density.

    Comment by Melissa Casburn — January 25, 2010 @ 1:57 pm

  2. Ooh, good thinking. Right now the colors are chronological, broadening and becoming less saturated as they’re replaced by the newer connections. It would be cool to encode by individual and time, for example. Interesting…

    Comment by Noah — January 25, 2010 @ 2:24 pm

  3. Here’s a similar idea on a larger scale, showing HIV infection and sexual network dynamics in a simulated population based on real data:


    Comment by David — January 25, 2010 @ 2:51 pm

  4. @ David: Fascinating stuff, thanks for posting. There are a ton of interesting opportunities for network visualization, depending on what the focus is.

    Comment by Noah — January 25, 2010 @ 3:26 pm

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