Effective yet aesthetically pleasing information visualizations are rare, yet the JESS3 labs have managed to create a whole bunch of them on the topic of geosocial networks. Here’s one of them, make sure to check out their site and view the remaining ones, especially the slide show. A lot of different styles on display!
My only critique would be the labeling – especially the center of the universe (the “sun”) has too many different font sizes, and the numbers are not easy to read. Plus, why not do away with the “m” denoting the millions? Just tell it in the legend, and write 5300 instead of 5.3.
Anyhow, I did not want to nitpick on someone else’s excellent work. What I find amazing is the rise of a planet I was not even aware of – Qzone, a Chinese network. According to Wikipedia, they even charge money for everything except a basic service. I was not able to find out more, because their website has no English version. They don’t seem to see the need to bother… Another interesting fact is the relatively slow growth of “true” geosocial networks like gowalla or foursquare. My guess is that they will remain a niche market for gamers, because the big players like Facebook and Google have decided to go geo before the smaller players could accumulate a critical mass of users. Finally, I was surprised that all social networks are now geosocial networks – so far, my definition was less inclusive. For me, “mobile” does not equal “geographic”. While it is true that most networks offer to include some geographic information in the form of geo-tags by now, only a few offer easy update or information on your current location. Even for those, the geocoding into true places is only working for parts of the globe, and often needs improvement in accuracy and quality, too. And to my knowledge, none offers distinctive tagging for your current location and a location you might be talking about. Am I glad that there’s still a lot of work to do for me. 😉