LinkedIn is the only “social networking” site I use. What it doesn’t have that I really want is a visual map of the structure of my social network. The structure of social networks in general is a hot research topic*. But I want to see what my social network actually looks like. Preferably out to 3 degrees of separation, with first and second degree nodes labelled with names (and links, natch.) It’s not enough to know who has lots of connections; I want to know with whom I have a high number of shared connections, i.e. who is a hub in my personal network. I also want to see the clusters that form in my own network. Some of these may be surprising, especially if 3rd degree links are included.
The real questions are: 1) is this something anyone else really cares about, and 2) is this something that LinkedIn would be loathe to provide—just as Google gives up zero information about link topology with its search results, presumably quite on purpose?
I could no doubt construct such a visualization myself, but given the way LinkedIn is set up it would have to involve a lot of yucky screen-scraping. Do any other “social networking” sites do a better job of coughing up real data on the structure of your personal network? If not, are they doing anything useful with this information themselves? I suspect not, which is just such a waste.