When you think about networks, you probably imagine all the different ways people use them. But what are networks really? What do they look like? And how can you make sense of them? As it turns out, there’s a simple image that can help answer all of those questions.
Networks can look like anything.
Networks are everywhere. They can be physical, virtual or conceptual. They can be made of people, computers or other things like ideas, energy and water. Networks can be highly structured and organized or very loose and chaotic; they may have formal rules (like laws) or informal ones (like social norms).
Network diagrams have a universal structure.
The structure of a network diagram is simple and universal. The nodes, or vertices, are represented by circles and the links between them are drawn as lines. Most diagrams also have an arrow at one end of each link to indicate which direction it travels in; this convention can be reversed if you prefer to show that information in another way (for example, with arrows pointing away from nodes).
The node-link model has become so common that many people think of it as the only way to represent networks visually–but there are other options! Another popular visualization technique is called “graph theory” because it focuses on representing relationships between objects rather than their positions relative to each other (which is what happens when you draw out your family tree). Graphs show how two things relate by drawing them together side-by-side:
Networks usually have multiple views.
One of the most important things to understand about networks is that they usually have multiple views. The way you view a network, and what you choose to emphasize in that view, will determine its usefulness for different purposes. For example:
- A graphical representation might show nodes and edges but no labels for either (or only labels for one type of node or edge). This is useful when trying to understand how two groups are related without knowing anything about them yet; it lets us focus on just how many connections there are between them and how strong those connections are through their placement on the graph.
- Another representation may include both node attributes (such as gender) as well as edge attributes (such as relationship type). This provides more information about each member within the network without overwhelming the viewer with details about individual relationships themselves; instead it gives us an overall picture of who is connected together through what types of interactions took place over time – which can be helpful if we want answers regarding group dynamics within larger systems such as classrooms or workplaces where people interact frequently but not necessarily every day.”
The purpose of your diagram might change the way you draw it.
The purpose of your diagram might change the way you draw it. For example, if you’re trying to show how information flows through a network, then your nodes will need labels that describe this information.
If you want to show how people interact with each other in a group or organization (e.g., who reports directly to whom), then your nodes should be labeled with names and titles instead of just numbers or letters.
You can use this simple image to make sense of different kinds of networks
The image above is a visual representation of a network, and you can use it to make sense of different kinds of networks.
The first thing to notice is the circles–each represents an individual or entity on the network. The size of each circle indicates how many connections that person has in total across all other nodes (i.e., other people). This helps us see who knows whom in our social circles; for example, if someone has more connections than everyone else, then they probably have more influence over others’ behavior than other people do!
Next look at where these nodes are positioned relative to one another: do they tend toward having fewer connections between them? Or are there lots of lines connecting them together? These patterns will tell you something about how information flows through this particular system — which could help explain why certain things happen within it over time (like why certain products become popular)
Hopefully, this image has helped you understand how networks work. It’s important to remember that there is no one right way to draw a network diagram–you can use it as a starting point and adapt it according to your needs. The key takeaway here is that understanding the structure of your data will help you create better visualizations in the future!