Visualizing a UX Book Club NYC Event

At last night’s UX Book Club NYC event we tried out a little experiment.

In keeping with the subject of our book, Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, we wanted to see how the people that attended the event connected and what the network that formed would look like.

To do this we gave each attendee a sheet of stickers with a unique number on them. Linked_Front

We asked that each attendee exchange stickers with anyone they “linked” with and stick that person’s number on to the back of their sheet.

Linked_CompleteAt the end of the night everyone turned in their sheets and I entered the data into Many Eyes, a new initiative by IBM’s Collaborative User Experience Visualization Lab whose purpose is to “democratize visualization and to enable a new social kind of data analysis.”

Looking at a visualization of these results is all the more interesting as I think back on the event and remember that each of my links was a real life connection with a real life person. For me, this is one of the awesome powers of visual communication. The image itself conveys information in a way that words simply could not. But on a more personal level graphic representations of ideas or memories provide a depth of understanding I just don’t get any other way.

As with most of the other people who read the book, I wonder how this new perspective and understanding about how networks form and work can be used in my design work. Will it allow me to devise a way for a network to grow or to remain healthy and vibrant? Can I use my new knowledge to make myself into a well-connected “hub” or identify existing hubs to become a more active and connected part of an existing network?

One thing I certainly got from the book was a new perspective on how the world works and there’s not too much more you can ask of a book, right?

Finally, to wrap this all up in a neat bow that ties together networks and the book club, head on over and join the new UX Book Club NYC Ning social network.

Looking forward to connecting with you.

- Ray

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