# Explore Your del.icio.us Tags and Bookmarks On 6pli

March 4, 2008

### Topic

Statistical Visualization

Santiago, who I met at the Visualizar workshop, forwarded me his work on the visualization of del.icio.us tags and bookmarks called 6pli. Normally, I’m not a big fan of network diagrams, because I always seem to get lost in all the nodes and edges cluttering up the place. I feel differently about 6pli though.

6pli sets itself apart with really smooth, responsive interaction and three views – elastic net 3-d, elastic net 2-d, and circle 2-d. All three views rely on a metric of tag-similarity. So the more co-tags that a single tag has with its neighbors, the closer the tags will be in proximity.

Was that confusing? OK, it’ll be more clear with pretty pictures.

## Elastic Net 3-D

The elastic net 3-D (pictured above) shows tags and bookmarks in a 3-dimensional view. Tags are in rectangles and bookmarks are circles. A bookmark (or circle) will be closer to another bookmark (or circle) if it has more tags in common. Similarly, if a tag is often grouped with other tags, it will appear closer to that group. Click on a tag, and a list of bookmarks show up on the right.

The cool part is when you start playing with the 3-D network blobby. You can rotate it like a globe and the movement is controlled by spring action. The visualization’s response is immediate and really smooth with nice transitions from one view to the next, unlike this paragraph.

## Elastic Net 2-D

The 2-dimensional view is the same principle as the 3-D. The only difference is the 2-D is a projection of the 3-D view onto a flat plane. Smooth interaction still applies here.

## Circle 2-D

Finally, the circle view arranges tags and bookmarks into their del.icio.us bundles. Each circle is divided homogeneously and the radius of the circle can me manually modified.

One thing I would recommend for the beta release is some kind of input to type in a tag or the name of a bookmark. Right now, the starting point feels kind of random, but if I could specify where I wanted to explore, I think the viz would be that much more useful.

Check out my 6pli del.icio.us tags viz here.

• Hi Nathan, I agree Santiago Ortiz’s work is very exciting. I really found it interesting how many swipes he’s taken at del.icio.us in particular. I published an interview with him on my blog Serial Consign last summer and in the discussion he gets into talking about his process and influences a bit. 6pli is of course one of the main topics of conversation. :)

• Nathan,

Since you said “Normally, I’m not a big fan of network diagrams” you have referenced at least 5 projects of network diagrams (I donÂ´t want to count or make a graph of this)…

IÂ´m curious about that… because I know what you mean when you say “I always seem to get lost in all the nodes and edges”.. I feel the same even on my own representations. But, as is easy to see, it seems that network diagrams became more and more common… My question is: there is a better way to represent a network than a network diagram?, at least, there are good alternatives?

Santiago

• maybe i should i append my previous comment. normally, i’m not a big fan of network diagrams as analytic tools. i think 6pli is the only network diagram project i didn’t put in the ‘artistic viz’ category.

i do think when you take an overview of a network diag, you do get some kind of “feeling” for relationships, etc; although it’s not necessarily analytical.

alternatives… it’ll depend on the data but from a statistical point of view, sometimes a scatterplot, or some other stat graphic that shows relationships. i don’t know. it depends on what you’re looking for too. one thing i do know though is that these network pieces don’t seem to make a ton of use of clustering algorithms. the nodes are usually arranged so that the viz isn’t clustered, but more attention could be placed on the similarities.

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