Presenting a series of a series of vivid, usable tools for visualizing the blogosphere, Matthew Hurst of Microsoft Live Labs said you can “induce” a social network once you begin to see the links and spheres of influence. This work is a timely evolution from the research and awesome visualtion of usegroups done by Marc Smith and Microsoft’s Netscan project.
The possibilities are great once you can effectively tracking not only links, but impact across that virtual community. Writing about blogs and deliberation for the Kettering Foundation in 2004 (pdf file), I said that the blogosphere was not “deliberative” by the academics’ definition, but that in the exchange and propagation of ideas across the web, we could envision a “proximity deliberation” as ideas encountered each other, built off shared reference points and reformulated opinions after these encounters.
The measurements that Hurst is doing begin to make these deliberative encounters less proximal and more palpable. If we can “induce” a social network, then we can begin to reveal it to itself and offer it actionable ways to act like a network.
tags: pdf2008