There are online communities everywhere: forums, listserves, wikis, and many more. Our services are a great way to open up the structure of interaction within the community to the community. This is a great opportunity for site administrators and managers who are beginning to seek new ways to give back to their supporting communities. Users (members of the communities) can see how they are connected to the community, who interacts with who, and any other relationships that the data provides for.
Social Networks are a type of online community that is particularly well suited for our tool. It is a network of 'who-to-whom' connections. Presenting these relationships is great, but adding the flexibility for the user to navigate and explore their groups and networks is a tantalizing feature with great potential for integration into the other elements of the community's features. Additionally, the statistical component of our tool would allow administrators and managers to analyze the networks for purposes of management, marketing, usability, research, and more.
The blogosphere is a crazy place! Everyone linking to everyone else with posts and reposts, and re-reposts. Mapping these connections would be fascinating and useful, with connectivity and reach measures augmenting information about traffic rankings.
Campaign Finance Reform
Who donates to whom is public record information. The convoluted relationships between committees and campaign funds can be presented in a much more intuitive way through network visualizations. If transparency in campaign finance sounds like a good idea, then this project should be very appealing. We are currently seeking partners closer to the political scene to aid us in this endeavor. If you have any contacts who might be interested in hearing about this, please let us know. Thanks for the help!
"Mashup" is one of the big buzzwords recently. It refers to combining two different datasets to create a new feature, service, or product. These combined datasets have great potential for visualizations. It can be hard to understand how the two datasets relate to each other, but visualizations that clearly illustrate the relationships can significantly reduce the time it takes to understand the connections, and package the experience in a fun and intuitive interface.
We have had several requests for a contact management tool that allows the user to see the relationships in their address books. We are working to develop a tool that will allow the user to establish his or her own definitions of relationships and attributes. Once that is done, the user can start to construct his own representation of his social network with the inclusion of 'insider information' as a member of that network, and then mine his relationships to get the most out of them.