[Editor’s note: This is one of the first tools I’ve seen that links topics, people & places into a network of graduated circles based on their ranking in the news. The circles are arranged based on their edge connections within the overall topology using the Flare visualization package in Flash AS3. As seen in the above screenshot, Germany is linked to Afghanistan, NATO, the Taliban, The Washington Post, and 20 other nodes. This project is one step forward in the vision I outlined in Topology and Projections: 21st Century Cartography. Disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Company, my employer, but I was not involved in this project.]
Republished from Slate.
Introducing News DotsAn interactive map of how every story in the news is related, updated daily.
Like Kevin Bacon’s co-stars, topics in the news are all connected by degrees of separation. To examine how every story fits together, News Dots visualizes the most recent topics in the news as a giant social network. Subjects—represented by the circles below—are connected to one another if they appear together in at least two stories, and the size of the dot is proportional to the total number of times the subject is mentioned.
Like a human social network, the news tends to cluster around popular topics. One clump of dots might relate to a flavor-of-the-week tabloid story (the Jaycee Dugard kidnapping) while another might center on Afghanistan, Iraq, and the military. Most stories are more closely related that you think. The Dugard kidnapping, for example, connects to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who connects to the White House, which connects to Afghanistan.
To use this interactive tool, just click on a circle to see which stories mention that topic and which other topics it connects to in the network. You can use the magnifying glass icons to zoom in and out. You can also drag the dots around if they overlap. A more detailed description of how News Dots works is available below the graphic.