I was writing the other week about Wolfram|Alpha’s new service that analyzes your Facebook connections to generate a comprehensive report and a network map. Just after publishing that article I was going through the LinkedIn updates on their iPhone app and I stumbled upon a tool that does a similar thing – with a smaller scope – for the professional connections on LinkedIn: inMaps. It’s already more than one-and-a-half years old and I’m a little surprised I didn’t discover it until now.
But don’t expect the numerous statistics and charts offered by Wolfram|Alpha, inMaps only generates a map of your connections and groups them into the most likely clusters – color-coded for easier delimitation. It’s more interactive, as you can zoom in and out to get better details of the structure; if you click on the nodes you will see in the side-panel the profile of the contact as well as a couple of the mutual connections, also color-coded to match the cluster they were classified in. I can easily recognize here the same larger groups as before: my third job as the bigger blue cluster on the left, my first one the second largest cluster in green on the right, some high-school colleagues in the purple group on the top right.
Aside from the more cluttered appearance, this app doesn’t seem to have the same level of accuracy as Wolfram|Alpha: I easily spotted several connections that were clustered in the wrong group, while others, in the correct group, are displayed very far away from it, in the middle of another one, for no apparent reason. But this could also be an indication of the different culture and purpose of the two social networks: while Facebook serves – in theory at least – for more focused, long-term relationships, on LinkedIn you connect with people you just met once – recruiters to name one obvious example. I usually accept connection requests from people I don’t really know on LinkedIn, something I rarely do on Facebook, so naturally a network map will become ‘polluted’ with these fake signals.