Visualization of Twitter Networks: Mailana

26 03 2009

Twitter is a free social messaging utility for staying connected in real-time. It has become my major social networking and information tool.

There are many Twitter Tools and API’s around. Many can be regarded as gadgets, nice to use, once, twice, thrice and ….then to forget. Some of the tools that I’ve bookmarked:

Some of these tools are just for fun, others (the last 3 for instance) tell you something about somebody’s twitter network or tweets.
In the last category a new tool has just been launched: Top Twitter Friends on http://twitter.mailana.com/. It is meant to answer the questions: Who do you talk to most often on Twitter? Who are your closest friends (BFF’s)? and What does your social network look like? But it gives also tips on who you should follow, how to find friends in your neighborhood (not successful in my hands) and to find a network of people talking about a certain topic.

optionsI like this tool very much, because it visualizes the network of your relevant contacts and their contacts. My present network looks like this:

laikas-network1

I’m automatically in the center. The thicker the threads with people, the more conversations you had with them. DM’s (direct messages) are excluded. When you pass your mouse over a portrait all rays starting from there color red. Within your network, other networks may be visible. For instance, in my network you see a “Dutch community” (wowter, gbierens, essen2punt0 etc) and an Australian one (@dreamingspires, @sandnsurf, bitethedust). Some people are pivots themselves: like @mikehawker and @scanman.
You can see anyone’s network by clicking a portrait or typing a name.

A list of your 10 closest “friends” is also shown. My closest “friend” is symtym, runners up are the librarians @pudliszek and @shamsha. And there is a list of 10 suggestions as well.

Finally you can make a map of conversations. The following map was created by searching for the hashtag #zorg20 (a dutch health 2.0 meeting). It will be no surprise that the organizer @zorg2.0 is almost in the center.

zorg-20

This tool looks really awesome.
However, it makes you realize that all your tweets and follows are charted. Can this be used to pick up people’s conversation at certain topics? Can it be misused?
I just wondered when I noticed that this system is driven by Mailana social network analysis system (see demo here). This system enables companies to find out valuable hidden information in company e-mails. As shown in the demo, you can search for a company name in Mailana and find which employees mail most about it. You even get a wordcloud on basis of which you can decide who gives you the most valuable information. It is easy to see how that can be used and misused in a company. Would you like your email to become searchable? I wouldn’t! Twitter is an open communication network, but still…..

In this respect it is interesting that according Danielle of the Health Informaticist:

….while the ‘laypeople’ are chattering away (…) a company called Salesforce.com has launched a product to allow “companies to search, monitor and join conversations taking place on Twitter directly in the Service Cloud.”(for more details see post here).

Gives me a bit uncomfortable feeling.

HATTIP: @drval (

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