Sat, 22 Mar 2003 22:24:45 GMT

More Social-Network Mapping Tools.

I wrote yesterday a column named “New Social-Network Mapping Tools Are Emerging.”

Slashdot mentioned it, and their readers sent me many comments and e-mails about other visualization tools.

First, I need to make some corrections about Valdis Krebs, the developer of InFlow, a software tool I talked about in this previous column. He wrote me to tell he never worked at IBM. On the contrary, IBM was his first big customer. And, while this Discover article stated that “Krebs has spent most of the last 15 years honing his mapping software,” he told me “the first working version [w/o visuals] was written in 2 weekends… on a 512K Macintosh… using Prolog.” Finally, InFlow is designed to analyze not an individual e-mail box, but groups of them.

And now, let's browse through the excellent suggestions in no particular order. [Please note that I intentionally removed all e-mail addresses.]

  • Raffi Krikorian urged me to take a look at a quick hack he put together a year ago called email constellations. “This project aims to be a free, flexible, and easily modifiable visualization tool that allows a user to intuitively understand their online social group structure.”
  • Stefano Mazzocchi sent me a pointer to his Apache Agora visualizing social networks. There, you can see a data cloud “generated by processing three months of e-mail traffic on three Apache development mail lists.” [A bit of caution: you might have to stop and restart your browser after using it.]
  • Jonathon N. Cummings alerted me about the NetVis Module which allows a dynamic visualization of social networks. “The NetVis Module is a free open source web-based tool designed to simulate, analyze, and visualize social networks using data from csv files, online surveys, and geographically dispersed work teams.”
  • Rev. wRy mentioned EtherApe, a graphical network monitor for Unix.
  • J. Maxwell Legg wrote about his freeware inGridX tool. “inGridX started life as a repertory grid creative free software offer to Kellian decision support consultants who make inferences about meanings by looking at the spin derived from a grid of elements and constructs. inGridX uses Principle Component Analysis as the basis to materially implicate a grid's digital effects.
  • The NameBase people pointed me to their Proximity Search tool which “generates social network diagrams of the ruling class.”
  • Steve Wolff asked me to check his Surf3D Pro tool. This is a freeware program which promises to reduce “search time by over 80% in comparison to what it normally takes you to click through and evaluate search engine results.” It has specific agents for Google Usenet groups, eBay auctions, Yahoo! Boards and others.
  • Arthur Embleton and Gustavo Muslera both recommended KartOO visual meta search engine. It is similar to the TouchGraph GoogleBrowser, but it doesn't require Java and uses FlashPlayer to draw interactive maps. Dazzling!
  • Finally, a reader named xynopsis talked about another kind of tools, the Visual Thesaurus. This web tool is not about social mapping, but it shows graphical connections between words. In this previous column, “The Visual Thesaurus: What Does it Show About Thanksgiving?,” I already explored this very funny tool.

As I already said, if you know about other similar new tools, please tell me and I'll gather your comments in a future story.

Sources: Roland Piquepaille, with Slashdot readers' help, March 16, 2003

[Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends]

more handy tools here…