Friday, 28 January 2011

InMaps - a priceless gem

LinkedIn released InMaps this week, a very nice visualisation method that divides your linkedIn network in companies, networks, groups, etcetera.
I think it's fantastic. I try to keep a moderate network on LinkedIn as well, and it's depicted above

My Capgemini network is up there, ex-Capgemini people, my University friends, my Highschool alumni, my LinkedIn Groups, my new freelance and customer networks, and people that I met at big projects or customers. But what I pay close attention to, are the cornerstones in between

I never knew some people were linked into 2, 3 or even more of those networks: I can just go to an "in-between" dot and click it, and see who is connected when it fans out. Simularly, I have some contacts that don't share any other contact in my entire network, which is fine too: those people I usually handpicked with great care and have relatively very close contact with

Could you do this all with raw data, without the visualisation? Heck no, that would offer no appetite at all. Mark W. Schaefer wrote a rant post on this, saying he is fed up with meaningless InfoGraphics. Well, so am I, but I don't label this a meaningless InfoCrapPic as I labeled the Digital Surgeons Facebook - Twitter comparison of 2010 - that was a serious piece of meaningless researchless content-free junk wrapped in a shiny glossy pic, endlessly ReTweeted by everyone, much to my disgust - I do sometimes wish the world to grow up

Pity is, it doesn't function 100%. Not all dots can be mouse-overed or clicked, when I move a little to the side the description pops up and out almost at the same time, that's not very nice at all.
Also, I can imagine that this gets kind of messy with 1,000+ contacts - but then again you were there yourself all the time so who's to blame for that?

Coming back to what I call cornerstones: Stowe Boyd calls this Betweenness:
So, it’s not who you know it’s where you know. It’s where you are situated in the network, and not just in the limited sense of how many immediate contacts you have
This graphic gives that away in a very nice UX way. It allows you to click through you network, step one level deeper (a drill-down will give you a user's profile), and see who's connected to who, and where. How often will I repeat this exercise? Well, maybe once per 3-6 months, I must admit, it's not something I'll use every day but then again so isn't LinkedIn itself - the dynamics of LinkedIn and InMaps are nicely tuned

And so, did I learn something new? Yes, an awful lot really, food for thought and other posts, and the detailed level of LinkedIn is a perfect base to do this kind of visualisation

But the biggest surprise was the fact that I found my best ex-colleague to be linked to my wife - something I would never have found out otherwise I think. Was that important? No, but very interesting LOL

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