Missed Connections

LinkedIn has released a nifty connection map visualization,  with the intent of providing greater insight into your professional network.  Unfortunately, how people input company name in their profile can create erroneous clustering and skew your results.

For example, in my map, several connections have been labeled Orange – which corresponds to people formerly employed by CompanyA – because (I assume) the company name field in their profile is “CompanyA” and not “CompanyA, Inc.”

[Update] Digging further into my map – a task that could benefit from clearer labeling when hovering over elements – it turns out, that it is not current company name driving the cluster distinctions. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to say what the determining factors are for the categorization of at least 30% of my contacts. It would be useful if the tool exposed how clusters were defined.

The unforgiving algorithm has determined these connections aren’t members of the Blue group – which corresponds to people currently employed by CompanyA.  Validation and pattern matching errors aside, the tool doesn’t permit adjustments to the automatically determined assignments – in my case producing little more than a pretty picture, but no insight to my network.

If they wish to expand this visualization experiment into a valuable add-on, the product team at LinkedIn will need to address these issues.  I would be interested in how well this tool interprets connection search results into graphically represented faceting.