Buddy Zoo (www.buddyzoo.com) is a new website with a great idea and lots of potential. Started by Adam D'Angelo, a student at Caltech, Buddy Zoo is a database of AOL Instant Messenger(R) screen names which can create visualizations of the social structure of AIM.

A member joins and submits their buddy list. It is then databased and if anyone on his list is already a member, then they are added to a list of your buddies who have signed up. You can then view any mutual buddies that are on both of your lists. After enough of your friends and your friend's friends join, you can view cliques you belong to. A visual map is created, displaying how closley related the buddies are by their distance apart. Some more information available is your popularity which is basically how many buddies you have that have joined Buddy Zoo.

Powered by Apache, mod_perl, and MySQL, this is a very simple yet original idea with some great potential for study of social interaction. There are also many possibilites for some very neat features. It will be interesting to see where this leads.

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