A while back Loic Le Meur wrote a post discussing how his social map is decentralized. He also urged others to create their own social maps. Several folks have since created them using wildly different visual ways to interpret and display them using a variety of tools.

Loic has also setup a site for sharing social maps at socialgraphcentral.wordpress.com.

So I found this to be very interesting and decided to create my own soicial map. I also thought it would be helpful to proivde some tips for others who wanted to do the same. The first decision to make was which tool I would use. As with others, I felt that the best way to create it would be by using a Mind Mapping tool.

I did however have some specific requirements:

  • Had to be an online Mind Mapping Service
  • Had to be free
  • Ability to import images
  • Ability to add external links
  • Ability to share the Mind Maps

I found the ultimate resource to do my research in the way of a Mashable post on 30+ Mind Mapping Tools. I tried all of the free online services and after weighing my requirements and the features of the various services I felt that Mindomo offered the best solution. If you don’t care about importing images (and frankly it’s a bit time consuming) another service that many others have liked is MindMeister.

So before creating my social map I had to decide on what hierarchical method I wanted to use for creating it. I decided to choose categories that are defined by my interaction methods. That also meant that some services may fall into multiple areas of interaction. I decided on four categories. Create, Consume, Connect,  and Communicate

Next up was providing the method of interaction occurring for each category as well as the services associated with it. So for instance, I had a caegory called “Create”. I then had an interaction for that method called “Comments” and under that interaction I listed 4 services that I use with links to my profiles or where the content lived on the service.

I also created some extended definitions for several services. I primarily use Twhirl to post to Twitter, but I also use it to cross-post to Pownce & Jaiku as well, so that interaction is listed on the map. Another extension is for services that offer multiple methods of displaying user data. You can see the examples I use for Last.fm & Goodreads. I also go on to mention applications that I use to enable functions in my social map such as Trillian for IM, Outlook for email, and Skype for video.

Here is an image of the finished product linked to the map on Mindomo

Mark Krynsky Social Map
Click to view interactive map on Mindomo

Overall I found the exercise interesting to get a visual of how we leave our footprint on the web as it relates to Lifestreaming and get more insight into our actions. I also realize that this map is just a current snapshot and it can easily change over time. It gets me thinking of other creative ways I can add to it and I just realized I could have added Yelp under Consume for Food. Oh well, I definitely plan on revisiting the map to see how it changes over time.

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