***** To join INSNA, visit http://www.sfu.ca/~insna/ *****
Thought you might find interesting to find what a few cyberfolk are saying
about social networks (although not social network analysis).
Barry -- c u on the beach next week.
Barry Wellman Professor of Sociology NetLab Director
[log in to unmask] http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman
Centre for Urban & Community Studies University of Toronto
455 Spadina Avenue Toronto Canada M5S 2G8 fax:+1-416-978-7162
*** Now Out: _The Internet in Everyday Life_ ***
Barry Wellman & Caroline Haythornthwaite, editors
Oxford: Blackwell, 2002
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Subject: MAPPING-CYBERSPACE Digest - 4 Feb 2003 to 6 Feb 2003 (#2003-10)
There is one message totalling 167 lines in this issue.
Topics of the day:
1. Inf@Vis! num. 113: Visualising Social Interaction (fwd)
Date: Thu, 6 Feb 2003 11:34:25 +0000
From: martin dodge <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Inf@Vis! num. 113: Visualising Social Interaction (fwd)
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Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2003 23:14:44 +0100
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Inf@Vis! num. 113: Visualising Social Interaction
The digital magazine of InfoVis.net.
Visualising Social Interaction
by Juan C. D=FCrsteler
Social interaction provides us with visual patterns that help us to situate=
ourselves in our environment. In Internet, however, this doesn=92t happen =
so easily. Some visualisations are appearing to remedy the problem.
See the illustrated version of this issue at http://www.infovis.net/E-zine/=
Social interaction produces many visual patterns we are so used to that we =
don=92t notice them. But they provide us with indispensable information in =
order for us to navigate our social environment.
Some of these patterns deal with the flux of human activity, like the colou=
rful scene of the bathers in a swimming pool or the appearance of the mushr=
oom-shaped silhouettes of the umbrellas in a rainy afternoon. They allow us=
to situate and to coordinate our behaviour with that of the environment. H=
aven=92t you ever felt strange dressed in a dinner jacket on a nudist beach=
, or wearing a swimming suit at a Christmas party?
Other visual patterns are related to affiliation, like the one made up of =
the business suits getting off a commuter train early in the morning. We c=
reate these and many other patterns just by standing where we stand and bei=
ng what we are. This is what some call =93social weather=94 http://www.kott=
ke.org/02/09/020930social_weath.html, something that you can feel immediate=
ly in a soccer match where it can sometimes be really stormy depending on =
the results of the local team...
But in cyberspace the social interaction is becoming more and more importan=
t and we don=92t have the indicators that the visualisation of our immediat=
e environment provides. For example, when we are at the office a simple loo=
k around at our environment allows us to know who is present and who isn=92=
t, the ones that are interacting and the ones that are buried in solitary w=
Not so in Internet where it=92s not easy to know what the social network we=
are interacting with is like, who is doing what and where the social magma=
we are incorporated in goes.
Some initiatives are working on this in order to remedy the situation. We a=
lready spoke about chat visualisation in issue 46 (http://www.infovis.net=
/E-zine/num_46.htm) or about digital cities in issue 102 (http://www.infovi=
s.net/E-zine/2002/num_102.htm), But there=92s still more:
A good starting point is Judith Donat=92s PhD thesis , http://smg.media.mit=
=2Eedu/people/Judith/Thesis/. Donath works for MIT Media Lab and is one of =
the most active researchers in this field. For her, one of cyberspace=92s m=
ost important problems is the absence of a body that in the social reality =
provides us with the possibility of
* Expression: Verbal but mainly non verbal. How we move, how we dress.
* Presence. Where we are, with whom, in which social circle we are moving.
* Control. Social control of individuals has been centred on the body but i=
t is lacking in cyberspace...
* Recognition. Typically associated to the face, it allows us to assert the=
So that many of the visualisations are centred on the representation of
* presence, how many there are
* identity, who they are
* interaction in abstract, who relates to whom
* conversation as exchange of messages
The most evident schemes draw the social networks as graphs, i.e. nodes rep=
resenting the actors and lines or arrows that represent the link between th=
em. One of the most well known is the typical organization chart of a compa=
ny. A more advanced example http://www.mpi-fg-koeln.mpg.de/%7Elk/netvis/Soc=
Morph.html shows the so called Hxaro practice of exchanging gifts among the=
members of the =A1Kung culture in Botswana and Namibia.
Chat Circles http://chatcircles.media.mit.edu/ by Fernanda Viegas, is a cha=
t where your presence is revealed by a coloured circle, you have a history =
of the conversation in the form of a line with transversal bars proportiona=
l in length to the duration of every message. Your presence leaves a trace =
that vanishes slowly taking about 10 hours in the process.
We have also seen in issues 65, 66 and 67 the visualisation of the visits =
to a web site, but Nelson Minar offers us a different perspective in http:/=
/xenia.media.mit.edu/~nelson/research/crowdvis/. Every visitor is a coloure=
d point close to the web page he/she is visiting.
Visual Who, http://persona.www.media.mit.edu/Judith/VisualWho/, from Judit=
h Donath, places the people in a space related to certain mailing lists. Th=
e colour of the names and their situation in space reveal the affinity with=
each of the lists. As new participants add new themes the morphology of th=
e representation changes.
IBM=92s =93Social Computing=94 group is also specially active. Babble http:=
//www.research.ibm.com/SocialComputing/SCGpapers.htm is a chat visualiser t=
hat represent every conversation as a circle where you find smaller inscrib=
ed circles that represent the individuals. The more in the periphery the le=
ss active in the conversation, the closer they are, the more involved in mu=
As we can see there are multiple ongoing initiatives. Nevertheless and desp=
ite the activity deployed by Donath=92s group, IBM and other groups and the=
richness of some representations, I=92ve got the impression that we still =
have a long road ahead before we can interact on the Net with a visual supp=
ort so rich and versatile so as to allow the deployment of the abundant res=
ources of social interaction we are used to in the real world.
This article has seen the light thanks to a conversation with Ben Hyde http=
://hydesign.blogspot.com who was also kind enough to provide a handful of l=
inks, some of which you can find attached.
Sociable Media Group MIT
Virtual Playground: Architectures for a Shared Virtual World http://www.hit=
Orgnet's - Inflow software see: http://radio.weblogs.com/0114726/2003/01/02=
Jonathan Schull's Macroscope Manifesto
=A9 J.C. D=FCrsteler 2000 - 2002, Barcelona, Spain.
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