Final Project #1 – Exploring tools for visualising data from social networks

Wanting to visualise and map networks, I have started with exploring ways of doing so.

InMaps

First of all, I needed a network, which would became my digital database. I was very excited to discover a tool called InMaps, which enables LinkedIn users to visualise and map their connections.

As described in more details by a  blogger Ingrid Lunden, “The service was first launched in January, 2011 as a way for you to look at different clusters in your network, color code them, and see where they may cross over with each other, with separations happening often around current and previous jobs, education, social circles and so on. Through this you could also interact, by clicking on hubs to see different profiles.” (read the whole article)

Here is an example by Paul Downey:

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Source

Unfortunately, InMaps have been disabled by LinkedIn in September 2014, and so I had too keep looking for different tools.

My next choice of a social network was Facebook as it’s the biggest database I own with my 370 “friends”. In comparison, I follow 278 people/companies on Twitter, but have only 130 followers.

I have started searching for “tools for visualising Facebook network”. Some of them were no longer active, but I’ve managed to use the others.

Connect 

The first app I’ve explored was Connect. It works both on smartphones and web browsers. Linked to Facebook account, it “maps” your Facebook network by displaying your friends on an interactive Google Map. Here are examples of my own map created by using Connect:

Connect

 

Social Map

The other software I’ve used is called Social Map. The software has been developed for the NACIS: Student Web Mapping Competition by Zdenek Hynek and Martin Pulicar from Masaryk University, Czech Republic. It uses Facebook API to

It serves as an “interactive map enabling spatial exploration of personal network of Facebook friends. The project has been initially conceived to find out how deep [one] could dig into people’s spatial relationship using the API of everyone’s favourite social network.” (source)

 

 Here are some screenshot:

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WolframAlpha

The last tool I have been exploring was Wolfram Alpha, and it was far more advanced than the two previous ones. As stated on the website:

“Wolfram|Alpha introduces a fundamentally new way to get knowledge and answers—
not by searching the web, but by doing dynamic computations based on a vast collection of built-in data, algorithms, and methods.” (source)

Yet out of all the features they offer, I was interested only in Personal Analytics for Facebook. In order to generate a full report and Facebook analytics I had to update my account to Pro. Thankfully, student/academic discounts are available.

The full report is available here.

As my main interest lies in my visualisations and mapping, I have focused on two particular parts of the report: Friend Network and Color-coded friend network. By choosing various databases (e.g. “all friends”, “female friends” or “friends from my hometown”), I was able to create various representations of my Facebook network.

Here is the final output:

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Top left: “All friends”

Top right: “From where I live”

Bottom left: “From hometown”

Bottom right: “Older than me”

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Left: “Female”

Right: “Male”

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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