Non-“Sense”?! Why you can’t touch an online network (yet)

June 18, 2012 in Freedom to learn by Balthas

Can you spot the community on this picture? Servers of the Alumniportal Germany - photo: Balthas Seibold, licence: see this website's license.

Can you spot the community on this picture? Servers of the Alumniportal Germany – photo: Balthas Seibold, licence: see this website’s license.

Recently, I had the pleasure to host a group of international experts who wanted to learn more about our alumni networks as part of a “sensing journey”. So I tried to have them “sense” the 50.000 plus members of the communities on the “Alumniportal Germany”, which in real life live in in more than 180 countries. But of course, there is no way to “sense” an electronic networks, to “touch” the links between the members, to “feel” an online profile or to “enter” an online group. The only thing that you can see in our building is a couple of grey computers (hosting all of the above, see picture.)

So the only approximations of “sensing online networks” that I know of, is some of the visualization work done by innovative graphical guys (For some examples, which I like, see: _1_ , _2_ , _3_ , _4_ , _5_). I you read German,  you can also check the blog of my fellow blogger on the Alumniportal Germany, Michael. He just wrote on data visualization on social media platform in his entry on “Visualisierung von Social Media (webinale 2012 Nachlese)” [This is a link to content within the Alumniportal Germany (register or login first to access the link)]

And then there are the attempts by the online platforms to “show” the network through statistics (“right now, soandsomuch people are online with you, as part of soandso many people from country xyz…”, for the Alumniportal see here – you need to log out to see the stats). But all of this is nowhere “touchable” enough.

So I guess that we will see some more creative ways of making online networking “sensible” anytime soon – because that is the only way that humans do really understand things.

P.S.: If you know other ways of showcasing online networks, please let meknow and add your point as a comment below.

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Note: This text was first published on the blog of Balthas Seibold at the Alumniportal Germany (www.alumniportal-deutschland.org/en/). Check the blog ( register or login first). All blog entries represent the personal views and ideas of Balthas Seibold.