LinkedIn Network Maps

I’ve just come across the network map generator from LinkedIn Labs, the “cool fun stuff” page where LinkedIn employees put their “20%-time” projects. I don’t use LinkedIn hugely, but have built up enough contacts on the “professional” social network now, from accepting connection requests, for a reasonably interesting map to be produced. You can see mine here. Four clumps are immediately spatially apparent: I identify them as University, Graduate Job, Current Job (CASA) and Orienteering. The software itself identifies and colour-codes six categories – it separates out my graduate job clump into the interns and the people I met once I came back for real – and splits the current job clump into the current and previous role with a closely aligned group (the quantative geographers at UCL.)

The maps are reminiscent of what can be produced in GePhi, an open-source network visualiser that is becoming increasingly popular here in the CASA lab. I produced a similar kind of map a good 15 months ago of my Facebook connections – this latter map has a richer set of connections but people are connected by the simple application of Hooke’s Law (masses on interconnected springs) with straight lines, rather than the sweeping curves of the LinkedIn Lab map, and without the automatic categorisation. You also don’t get yourself placed at the centre, with all the lines leading to you :-) . My connections did however also group roughly into the same categories, showing that once you’ve got your connections, it’s difficult to lose them, no matter what network you are on… ;-)