Think having 5000 Facebook friends is impressive? What if you had to maintain those relationships with status updates that took weeks or months to arrive? That wasn’t a problem for literati in the 1700s, who managed to maintain impressive social networks with handwritten letters.
A team from Stanford has mapped this “social graph” in an interactive graphic that visualizes 55,000 letters exchanged between 6400 correspondents. Here’s the dashboard for 1700 to 1801:
The dashboard lets you instantly visualize connections, plus the volume of correspondence coming out of specific geographic locations, shown here:
Here’s Alexander Pope‘s connections. Verily, behold the enviable reach of yon friend network!
If the author of “The Rape of the Lock” isn’t your cup of tea, you can also filter by any one of hundreds of estimable philosophes: Voltaire, Leibniz, Rousseau, Linnaeus, Franklin, Newton, Diderot…
Just let your fingers do the walking. Your nerdy, nerdy fingers.