I love graph viewers and visualizers and being able to play with them on your own data is better than anything 🙂

SpiderFriend is a visualizer for your facebook friends network, it graphs you and your immediate friends on the edge of a sphere with connections between y’all. Nice, but the visual treatment doesn’t allow you to see clearly who knows who.

I’d also like to see a way to explore the network, clicking on a friend and seeing their friends and so on. I guess facebook apps can’t wander around that easily 🙁

Take a look at the short video below or download and play yourself from http://www.butant.com/spiderfriend/

What's in a name?

RePEc, Research Papers in Economics, have been doing some interesting work on allowing the author community to self-specify variant forms of their name.

This is interesting, the example they give is of John Maynard Keynes:

For John Maynard Keynes (who is not registered), such name variations could be:

John Maynard Keynes
John M. Keynes
John Keynes
J. M. Keynes
J. Keynes
Keynes, John Maynard
Keynes, John M.
Keynes, John
Keynes, J. M.
Keynes, J.

Unfortunately Keynes has not registered these himself, I’d love to see some examples from the 16,000 authors who have registered.

This data comes from published papers as well as monograph data, so the variance is a lot higher, I suspect, than occurs solely within libraries and the absence of years of birth (and death) makes it highly ambiguous. RePEc have published a list of author name homonyms. Even within published papers on economics this is a reasonably problematic list.

I’ve been working on very similar issues with library data, trying to analyze the meaning in marc data.

One of the key things for me was developing techniques for dealing with ambiguity, allowing outside systems with limited data to receive the most specific answer possible, while giving less specific answers for less specific matches.