|In the last few months I wrote several times about Web 2.0 analytics, mentioning the Social Network Analysis , the Socialmeter or my own
Jeffrey Heer and Danah Boyd, two researchers at Berkley University did a great study about visualizing social online networks. Their visualization tool called Vizster visualizes a "snowball" sample of Friendster, encompassing over 1.5 million profiles and the linkages between them, roughly a quarter of active friendster users at the time of writing [spring 2004].
With Vizster or an adaption of the tool, it should be possible to figure out the quality and density of social online networks. Especially key members could be easily identified and promoted (e.g. paid). Using an adapted Vizster, a good Webanalyst could make key proposals to his team/management, which then could not only stop the decline of a social network (as seen on Friendster over the last few years), but also bring in big advertising dollars. Personally I believe that a good density and growth of quality members could build and sustain an online network like Friendster and this is what the webanalytics industry needs to concentrate on. The current public discussion about the popularity of online networks, which is mostly based solely on member numbers or Alexa data, seems pretty much meaningless to me.