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In case you haven’t spotted it yet, Ripples is a rather nifty visualization created by the world’s most popular search engine (and plucky social-networking challenger) for its fledgling network, Google+.

Ripples reveals how an update has spread across Google+, from one user to many others, as it is shared, commented on and so forth. The image above shows the impressive stir caused by Sergey Brin’s short eulogy on Steve Jobs.

Few of us have the kind of following that Brin does, but it’s still fun to look at the ripples caused by an update. It’s also an excellent example of how visualization can help everyone explore the burgeoning amount data that is generated by their social activities online. This is something Facebook has begun to explore with its new Timeline feature.

It’s also a clever way to boost engagement and interaction on Google+, which has seen a drop off in activity after the early surge that followed its launch.

Just click on a recent update and hit “View Ripples” to see how one of your messages has spread. For other people’s examples try searching Google+ for the hashtag #ripples.

Visualizing social network data is something our research editor (and resident data wrangler) Mike Orcutt has been researching. Look out for a cool visualization on this subject in the next issue of the magazine.

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