Network graphing

A rough network sketch
A rough network sketch

I started to think about visualising the relationships between the entities that I will be tracing. The ideas have been coming a bit thick and fast since I started thinking about it last night – and then mapping a very messy diagram on the bus this morning.

My initial idea is to use Google Fusion Tables as a sandpit for quickly pulling a network graph together – there’s an inbuilt chart type so it will be quick and easy to generate. However my initial tinkering left me a bit confused about how to structure the data. I had a Google Spreadsheet with each of the entities listed, but when I copied across to Fusion Tables it didn’t make much sense. This post by Timothy Lepczyk helped clear up how to structure things (and is also  of interest since I’m reading The Hobbit with my son at the moment!):

Basically you need to have multiple rows for an entity if it has multiple relationships. The other thing I wanted to work out today was how to link a Google Spreadsheet to a Google Fusion Table. Fusion Tables are really powerful, but a pain if you’re still rejigging the data about (well, I find that anyway). After a couple of false starts I found this post, which provides the script and describes which services need to be enabled to allow this to happen:

Now I have my spreadsheet linked to the Fusion Table, once I’ve finished tinkering with the data (and there’s a LOT of tinkering to be done) I can run the script to update the Table. I have published and embedded the network graph below chart. So, in theory at least, the visualisation below should reflect my most up-to-date version of the data in the spreadheet:

Being hands on with this data, and starting to visualise it, is really useful for throwing up questions at this early stage. One of the main ones right now is what to include. I’m really unsure whether to stick with ‘texts’ or to include people and organisations. One for further discussion I think.

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