Monday, April 13, 2009

Finding Facebook Connections

Are you aware that there are applications you can use to visually see how your friends network together on Facebook?
That's right, for all you visual learners you can see the connections between your friends. Here are a few of the applications that you can use, a description of each from their website, and my comments on them:
  • Facebook Visualiser "Visualiser is a tool to graphically explore your facebook social network. You can use it to see how all your contacts are connected to each other, and in the process disclose unknown common friends. Other FOAF (friend-of-a-friend) disclosure would be interesting, but unfortunately, the Facebook API doesn't include this important bit of data."
    COMMENT: Like this one the best. It uses the photos of you friends and draws connecting lines between the ones who are networked. You can make the chart larger or smaller and sort by relationship and gender filters.
  • Facebook Friend Wheel "Friend Wheel is free and anyone with a Facebook account can see their network of friends linked and represented in this fashion. The rationale is simple: On the outside are all of your friends and if two people are linked together, it means that they are friends with each other. There's also an interactive flash version which allows the nodes to be moved and highlighted, and makes it possible to zoom in and out."
    COMMENT: The most colorful of all the options. Friends are listed around the outside of a circle and lines link connections. The more friends, the harder to differentiate the connections. Created by a 19 year old student with 100 friends.

  • Nexus "Nexus is a friend grapher for Facebook built on Graphviz twopi and neato. It calculates friend similarity by parsing profiles (through the Facebook API), and highlights links between friends who share interests and groups. While the generated image is static, browsing the connections is dynamic: clicking a friend node shows who they are friends with, as well as all commonalities with mutual friends."
    COMMENT: Interesting but looks more like a visit to a planetarium in the dark version. You can rollover the dots and you friend's photo appears. A light version can be selected and size can be easily changed.

  • Facebook Mutual Friends "Daniel McLaren has built a Facebook friends visualization using his own flash-based graph visualization tool called Constellation. The interface lets you see which of your friends know each other. At any given time it will show one of your friends as the selected node (in bold), and any mutual friends as additional nodes. Lines between nodes represent friendships." 
    COMMENT: Interesting format if you like to see things move about. Click on a friend from the drop down window and that friend's connections will be displayed. Could use a lot of processor energy with a large number of friends.

All of these applications are free and none require a download.