Finding Beautiful Insights in the Chaos of Social Network Visualizations

Published at Beautiful Visualization 2010
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Mark LoMBardI waS perhapS the perFeCt Network Layout aLgorIthM. As an artist intent on communicating complex networks of financial and political scandals, he diligently drew networks where nodes never overlap, edges rarely cross, and the connections are smooth and curvy. This amount of grace and sensitivity is rarely present in the visualizations of social networks created by computational means. While advanced computational layout algorithms may be grounded in physical models of springs and forces, they rarely highlight patterns and trends like Lombardi’s drawings do. This chapter details my attempts to empower users to dig deeper into these chaotic social network visualizations with interactive techniques that integrate visualization and statistics.