LinkedIn Maps: art or science?

LinkedIn is a great resource for exploring professional profiles. However, when your personal social network starts to grow into the hundreds of contacts, it becomes very hard to – quite literally – still see the bigger picture. One feature that can help you visualize your network is LinkedIn Maps. It both shows the links between your connections and color-codes major clusters that are rough approximations of the various professional and personal worlds you move around in. You can zoom in and out, and select individual contacts to see which persons you know they are also connected to.

Of course, it makes for pretty art. However, the maps can also be useful. First, they give you a quick sense of the roles you play in your social world, through the colored sub-networks. Another use is to find out which people who you think don’t know one another, in fact are acquainted.

My LinkedIn Map – Overview

To give you an idea of what LinkedIn Maps is about in practice, here are some of my own maps. First, the total overview, showing the “regions of my personal world map” (click on the figures to see the details). For instance, one big region is formed by my local Tilburg connections, other regions by my Tilburg University research contacts, my international Community Informatics research connections, etc.

Zooming in on my personal network

The closer the regions are to my own node, and the more densely connected they are, the more they represent my “daily social circles”. When zooming in, the names of individual connections become visible.  The bigger the dots depicting my contacts, the more they are connected to my own contacts, and the more likely we have something in common, if only by knowing the same people.

Zooming in on a close “general connector” who is well connected to many of the people I know across many of my social circles

Finally, by selecting particular contacts, you can quickly explore which of your contacts in the various regions you share. This can be very valuable information, in, for example, setting up joint projects, selecting network coordinators or community managers who need to act as “spiders in your webs”, and so on. In this figure, I have selected one of my close contacts, and immediately see he is quite evenly connected to all of my “daily networks”. If I were to set up a project involving those networks, he would be a good candidate to ask for assistance.

Zooming in on a “specialized connector” who is well connected to many of the people I know in one particular circle

On the other hand, the contact I selected in this example, is very much connected to many of the people in my subnetwork that I have dubbed my “Tilburg University research network”. So, if I were to set up a joint research project with my former colleagues, he would be one of the persons to talk to first!

Handbook of Research on Socio-Technical Design and Social Networking Systems

Handbook of Research on Socio-Technical Design and Social Networking Systems

090316_soctech_research_handbook1ISBN: 978-1-60566-264-0; 1,034 pp; March 2009

Published under the imprint Information Science Reference (formerly Idea Group Reference)

Edited by: Brian Whitworth, Massey University, New Zealand and Aldo de Moor, CommunitySense, The Netherlands


The focus of this book is not how to make technology more efficient, nor even how technology harms or helps society, but rather how to successfully combine society and technology into socio-technical performance.

The Handbook of Research on Socio-Technical Design and Social Networking Systems provides a state-of-the-art summary of knowledge in this evolving, multi-disciplinary field distinctive in its variety of international authors’ perspectives, depth and breadth of scholarship, and combination of practical and theoretical views. This noteworthy Handbook of Research extends a useful collection for anyone interested in modern socio-technincal systems where knowledge of social principles can mean the difference between success and failure.


“Brian Whitworth and Aldo de Moor have gathered valuable material from an international panel of experts who guide readers through the analysis, design and implementation of socio-technical systems. It will be widely useful in defining issues in engineering, computing, management, organization, government policy, and ethics. The practical guidance and fresh theories can inspire a new generation of designers and researchers to catalyze even more potent forms of human collaboration.”

– Ben Shneiderman, University of Maryland, USA



  • Agent-based collaborative e-learning
  • Anti-social networking
  • Community collective efficacy
  • Community network research and design
  • Cyber security
  • Cybercrime variants
  • Integrated teams in virtual environments
  • Organizational and software structure
  • Participation in online communities
  • Remote participation in research
  • Social derivation of technical systems
  • Social networking systems
  • Social study of computer science
  • Social support for online learning
  • Socio-technical communities
  • Socio-technical design
  • Virtual collaboration and community
  • Workflows in software development

For more information about Handbook of Research on Socio-Technical Design and Social Networking, you can view the title information sheet at
To view the Table of Contents and a complete list of contributors online go to
You can also view the first chapter of the publication at

Handbook of Research on Socio-Technical Design and Social Networking Systems

Together with Brian Whitworth from Massey University, New Zealand, I am editing a Handbook of Research on Socio-Technical Design and Social Networking Systems, to be published by IGI Group in 2008. See the call for chapters. It is a massive project, requiring at least 50 quality articles. Our goal is to get researchers and practitioners talking to each other, not only by the publication itself, but also by building an author community. To be continued…