Vizster was a project from 2004 developed by Jeffrey Heer and Danah Boyd that focussed on Visualizing social networks.
I don’t know whatever became of this interesting approach to viewing social networks, but I hope someone continues their impressive groundwork. I have no doubt that we will all see this technology implemented in the Semantic Web (aka web 3D, my term).
Yes, the Semantic Web will be mostly about A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) and smarter search engines based on more intuitive databases, but I also contend that interactive visualization will be a major component of the future of the web.
Here is a screenshot of Vizster:
Here is their Research paper in PDF format
I believe we’ve already started to see various forms of its implementation. Here is an example of one site that I enjoy called MusicMesh that resembles Vizster with visual nodes and links. In this case it connects music artists to their albums and songs along with a mashup of YouTube for the connected musicvideos. Brilliant use of a visual tool and mashups to deliver a unique experience and useful and entertaining result.
Notice how each click delivers numerous “intelligent” changes including: wikipedia entry for the selection, reviews, amazon listings for purchase as well as the music video on YouTube. It also displays other artists it “Thinks” you would be interested in based on your selection. This, my friend, is the heart of the Semantic Web.