Sunday, April 24, 2005

Weekend edition: SWMSNA seeks SWF

It is the great tradition of science that our biggest discoveries often emerge from the smoldering ashes of our most disappointing failures. See antibiotics and special relativity for a couple of the 20th century's biggest examples of this.

Or consider this image from NetMiner:

What is a social network analyst to make of this? The network structure is more obscured than enlightened by the 3D effect. And no amount of tweaking can make more than a quarter of the node labels intelligible at any one time.

I sat with my laptop in a cafe recently, pondering this seeming waste of technology. When suddenly the woman at the table behind me said, "Excuse me, but what are you working on?"

Yes. I had unwittingly stumbled into the SNA "Axe Effect."


Valdis said...

LOL! You should post that[flirting via SNA visualization] on SOCNET. So, maybe the first date should be at a Mark Lombardi exhibit?

Yes, 3D often obscures structure rather than make it obvious. I think we need to go from 2D to Virtual Reality... 3D is just a large pothole along the way.

Shannon said...

Has anyone use "4D" techniques for social network graphics? What I'm thinking of would be to have a series of repeating images of the social network, arranged over time - ala Tufte's "repeating images" - a key challenge likely being keeping the graphics at the same scale yet legible (might not fit on a screen, but might be doable in a large scale printout?

(I'm thinking probably of flat images so there isn't a perspective problem - but arranged as a series over time)

- online this might also though differently be achieved via stop motion animation effects - i.e. tracing the growth and change of a network over time


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