Part of the purpose of any social web site is to build a network of friends. Using the recently released Digg API, I created a map of Digg users and how they’re connected to each other.
The Map [Link]
On the map, users are organized by the length of time they have had accounts on Digg. The oldest accounts are at the center and accounts created in the last few months are around the edges. The map only includes users who utilize Digg’s friendship feature.
I’m known for making an argument that data visualization can be very useful. Charts and graphs, while they may be aesthetically pleasing, can point out trends and habits on a broad scale that would probably be missed using typical statistical analysis.
However, I’ll be the first to say that the Digg friendship map I created has very little value as a practical analysis tool. It’s an idea I’ve had in my head for a few months, and finally got around to building it. I thought it would be fun. I thought it would be neat.
Making it fun and neat
The map itself, as a JPG image, may already appeal to people with an interest in data visualization. However, if I’m going to make something fun and neat, I’m going to try to appeal to more people than just data visualization enthusiasts.
When I rendered the image, I stored the coordinates for every user in a database. This allows me to go back afterwards and query the database for a specific user and retrieve that data point. I created a simple Flash interface where people can type in their (or others’) digg user names to find out where they are on the map.