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October 01, 2006


David Armano

Sorry to hear you find this inaccurate. It's based off of my personal experience using the social media network (as all my visuals are)—I designed this in the midst of observing links back to my blog from various communities.

But, let's assume that you are correct—and that the visual is as inaccurate as you say. Scores of people have referenced this visual including the blog/social media veteran B.L. Ochman who used it in a presentation she gave in the U.K. Clearly she and others have found value in it.

You are correct that it could do a better job of visualizing the relationship between communities—but at the core it shows how the communities are grouped and connected—and the activity/exchanges which occur between them.

So maybe not totally accurate as you suggest—but most of the reations I've recieved on this particular visual is an immediate "oh, I get it"—something that written words don't always effectively convey.

Appreciate the feedback though. It always helps.

David Armano

What's the use of posting something critical if you don't plan on taking the time to respond?

Matthew Hurst


You are right about the need to respond. I've just been snowed under with other work and haven't had time to compose an answer, though that has certainly been my intention. I'm reluctant to do so in response to your inaccurate comment (inaccurate in stating that I didn't plan to respond), but I will anyway:

As you describe it, the image is based on your personal experience. However, an individual's worm's eye view of the blogosphere is probably not an accurate one when it comes to characterizing the structure of the blogosphere. Have a look at some of the maps published on this and other blogs for data driven analytics. One of the key differences is the size and distribution of communities - which is closer to a power law distribution (in which there are a few large communities and many smaller ones); and - importantly wrt this criticism - a system of communities in which the communities themselves tend to refer *up* the food chain (i.e. to larger communities) rather than to peer size communities as your image suggests. What is misleading in our image is the use of non-trivial representations of communities which suggest that they are an accurate depiction when in fact they are more of an intuitive impression.

Your claim that scores of people have referenced this material is - IMHO - not an indication of quality. What is it that the graphic is saying? - There are many communities of similar size in which people are clustered togther (how?) and between which individuals correspond (is this accurate?). Are people getting what the picture claims or what is actually happening in the social media you intend to depict?


I like the phrase you used "intuitive impression". I think that's what draws people to my visuals even when they are technically inaccurate. Yes, you are correct about the accuracy issue I suppose. My brain isn't big enough to even get my head around the intracacies you are describing in your response. But the visual has immediately connected with people which I suppose is not an indication of quality as you put it, but value.

So I guess that is the tradeoff. My wormhole view of the blogoshpere is inaccurate compared to the more accurate data driven renderings which are published here. I buy that. But I guess sometimes I'm more interested in providing value over accuracy.

Sorry to hear that you were hesitant to respond due to my inaccurate assumption that you might not. This was based on my observation of the new posts and comments which occured after my initial comment, which lead me to believe you might be moving on. Appreciate your response. This is certainly a valid discussion.

Jeremiah McNichols

I had some comments on this disagreement and posted my thoughts at Think In Pictures ( Thanks for the great work, Matthew.

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