Ars Technica discusses how researchers are using sophisticated software to map links in cyberspace. AT points to this Chronicle of Higher Education article article (source of the picture at left, which links to a flash presentation featuring more maps).
While much of the article is wasted words about how political bloggers of both red and blue stripes tend to stick together, and how companies are trying to harness this mapping technology for (surprise!) commercial purposes, it eventually gets around to this...
"Mr. Smith and his colleagues have developed a way to determine what kind of user a person is by looking at data maps of their posting behavior rather than examining the content of their messages. Among the type of users: the "answer person," who is quick to provide advice to strangers; the "flame warrior," who enters discussions hoping to win arguments by trashing other participants; the "discussion person," who is willing to talk on just about any topic; and "the questioner," who seeks advice but is not a frequent participant and is not looking for conversation."
Admittedly, the commercial and marketing implications are easy to come up with and kind of fun to think about (perhaps only if you're a former advertising research geek like me). But what about the psycho-social implications for understanding human behavior and comparing virtual vs. meat space behavior of individual web junkie... I mean, users. That would be something, don't you think?
Meanwhile, in my part of the map it's still pouring down rain. We're talking buckets here, folks.