Mapping the Blogosphere

Is the above from a new series of artworks by a contemporary designer, an explosion of scientific data, or a photograph of a strange creature discovered by deep-sea biologists? Well, while most of the following images are just crying out to be placed on a T-shirt, they actually have little to do with design, fashion, photography or art, and much more to do with cyberspace…

Scale 1

Is the above from a new series of artworks by a contemporary designer, an explosion of scientific data, or a photograph of a strange creature discovered by deep-sea biologists? Well, while most of the following images are just crying out to be placed on a T-shirt, they actually have little to do with design, fashion, photography or art, and much more to do with cyberspace…

Mega core

“The Blogosphere” (for the uninitiated) is the collective term encompassing all weblogs and their interconnections, based on the perception that blogs exist together as a connected community. The data displayed in these images was provided by the blog search engine, Blogpulse, and represents a month’s worth of data collected from the entire blogosphere. These Blogpulse “maps” were each produced by Matthew Hurst, a scientist at Microsoft’s Live Labs and co-creator of Blogpulse.

Each one represents the “blogosphere” and was designed to show the relationships between weblogs. Within the maps, each “node” represents a weblog and the links between them represent the existence of citations e.g. where A cites B and B cites A – there is a reciprocal link. The maps are then laid out by inspecting the reciprocal links within the graphs and adding in those nodes (blogs) that are linked close to each other.

Blogosphere sketch
This image depicts the core of the blogosphere. The dark edges show the reciprocal links (where A has cited B and B has cited A), the lighter edges indicate a-reciprocal links.

Core Blog
This image is essentially the same as the above but with the nodes added. The size of the nodes represents the number of “inlinks” to the blog. The colours represent the URL – blogs hosted at the same domain have the same colour.

What emerges through this process is what’s referred to as the “community structure of the blogosphere”. Groups of weblogs that have a lot of interlinking are located nearer to each other. This often occurs when there is some commonality among the weblogs (e.g. by topic, or by geographic location).

From that set Hurst has pulled out what he calls the “core of the blogosphere” – this is the largest group of connected weblogs which are, generally, focussed on tech/web 2.0 type subjects and politics.

While these strangely organic-looking diagrams are based on hard statistics and technical data, it’s satisfying to think that this very post might in some way help generate another of Hurst’s stunning creations.

New blog
A “Hyperbolic” display of blogs

More information on blogospheres can be found at Matthew’s website Data Mining: Mapping the Blogosphere.

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