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Twitter Blocks

When we live in a virtual world, who are our neighbors? And our neighbors’ neighbors? The amazing fact of the Internet is that we’re capable of living in thousands of places simultaneously. But how do all of those places connect?

When it comes to Twitter, it’s easy enough to see who you’re following. But do you know who all of those people are following? And are any of those second-degree people following you?

Twitter Blocks is a super cool Flash app from the Twitter “Labs” that attemps to answer these questions. The three-dimensional, interactive visualization plots your recent tweets along with the recent tweets of your friends, and their friends.

Each box or “block” represents a tweet. The orange boxes are my friends’ 10 latest tweets, my so-called neighbors. The lines perpendicular to mine are my friends’ neighbors, and the blue boxes are where I exist in their neighborhoods.

The height of each block maps to how long ago the tweet was posted — the most recent tweets are flat on the plane, while tweets from a few hours ago have a greater height.

twitter blocks

As you mouse over each tweet you can see the person it came from, along with all of their other tweets in the neighborhood. Below you’ll see all of the tweets in my neighborhood from Matthew Oliphant a.k.a. Matto. The pink box is where I’m mousing over.

twitter blocks

Then if I click on the pink box, I can see Matto’s tweet:

twitter blocks

From there I can use the four-way control to move through my neighborhood. When I hit the up arrow, I follow Matto’s block to see the most recent tweet on his Friends Timeline, from Nick Finck:

twitter blocks neighbor

The icon in the bottom-left corner brings you back to the neighborhood view, while the icon in the top-left corner launches full screen mode. If you’re curious to see what someone else’s neighborhood looks like (because this is the Internet after all, and reality is in the eye of the beholder), either click “Load [twitter name]‘s neighbors” or the carriage return icon beneath the four-way control.

The animation is really neat so I recommend you check it out yourself. If you don’t have Twitter but still wanna see this puppy in action, just take a walk around the block in my neighborhood. Perhaps we’ll bump into each other.

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  • http://www.marthmihaly.wordpress.com Martha Mihaly

    Hi Whitney, I’m new to your blog visiting from David Armano’s place. Thanks for your insightful and concise writing and ideas. Your on my ‘hit list’ now.

  • http://www.whitneyhess.com/blog whitney

    Martha, thanks so much for the kind words. Keep reading! I look forward to your comments.