Emergent Communities of Interest on the Web

When making purchases on the Web, individuals form invisible communities. We can peek into these structures by visualizing the pattern of consumer choices over time.

What patterns emerge around your favorite book? We choose a book to examine -- The Anatomy of Buzz by Emanuel Rosen. It shows up as the red node in our network above. What communities of interest are reading this book? What else are they reading? Which books are most influential in this consumer community?

The data we use is based upon books purchased by the same person at a major web bookseller -- people who bought X also bought Y. This link data goes into our network mapping software, InFlow, to visualize the emergent consumer patterns. Four communities emerge based on purchasing patterns -- each cluster is a unique color and enclosed in a frame for easier viewing. The gray nodes seem to span two or more clusters without belonging to any. Community themes include...

  • green nodes: dotcom fever
  • magenta nodes: new economy
  • yellow nodes: book promotion
  • blue nodes: business change and strategy

Once the network is mapped, we measure it to evaluate each network position. Which books measured as most influential in the community of Buzz readers? The most influential book in this network is Leading the Revolution. It is prominent not just for its many connections, but where those connections lead to -- the network measures include both direct and indirect links. Other influential books in this emergent community include Unleashing the Ideavirus, 10 Second Internet Manager, Tipping Point, and Promote Like a Pro. These books are key bridges to areas of similar interest for the Buzz readers -- a great opportunity for cross-selling!

Software and Training in social network analysis are available from the author.

Copyright © 2001, Valdis Krebs

Web orgnet.com