I’m playing with graphs again. Here’s a picture of my net-neighborhood out to two steps, i.e., the sites on my blogroll and the sites on their blogrolls.
The funniest thing about this graph is that, despite the fact that it was designed to be my neighborhood, Idiosophy isn’t in the center. Olga’s Middle Earth Reflections is. (Fair enough; her blog has more than a thousand followers.) Science teaches humility, along with everything else.
Nobody else is interested in economics, so Grasping Reality is ‘way over in the corner. The rest of the network is easier to read if I cut that one link.
J.R.R. Tolkien brings together some diverse parts of the world. There are priests and theologians along the south, language-inventors up in the northwest corner, medievalists in the northeast, and a little knot of modernists on the east side. Nobody who knows Tolkien’s curriculum vitae would be surprised to see that list (except perhaps for the economists and the physicist), but if there’s anything else in life that connects these communities, it doesn’t come immediately to mind.
Drawing these graphs took ten minutes. The tools you can download freely from the Web are amazing. This was made by the “igraph” package in R. To make these plots, I used an algorithm that simulates a simplified physical system to place the nodes. It puts an electric charge on the nodes, so they want to be separated and legible. Then it pretends the links are rubber bands, so inter-linked nodes are pulled tighter together. I learned how to do this from an excellent tutorial by Katherine Ognyanova. (Who must be one of us; she posted the etymology of her name on her blog. I wonder if she’s related to the Vedic fire-god Agni.)