Information is beautiful
Geocode Earth for example, features a globe populated by little creatures that represent users of Twitter, Flickr and other Social Media sites. As new tweets are posted, the globe spins to the location of the user and shows you their post.
You can simply view a public stream or filter these users to just those you wish to follow. You can even filter results by keyphrase, then sit back and see what people around the world are saying about Japan or Libya or the iPad 2.
Fidg't works by making TagMagnets out of the related tags in your Flickr and LastFM accounts. Once Tag Magnets are created, members of your network will gravitate towards them if they have photos or music with that same tag. This simple mechanic lets you visualize your network in a unique way, demonstrating its predisposition towards certain things. What is more popular amongst people in your network - rock or electronic music? Are photos of buildings more popular than photos of sunsets?
If that doesn't grab your interest, how about having all your Twitter followers and those you follow organise a parade in your honour? With IS Parade, all you have to do is enter your Twitter ID (or a keyphrase of your choice) and an army of adoring fans will march across the screen, running, jumping, dancing and carrying placards. As they pass, their tweets pop up in speech bubbles to give a live feed of what they are discussing.
The site even features a Usain Bolt branded hundred metre dash parade where users run across the screen, stopping only to strike the famous Bolt pose.
So what is it good for?
In this use of data visualisation it starts to become evident that such technologies can be used to advertise. They provide the functionality we are so used to with Social Media sites, but expand on it in a fun, distracting and engaging way. They are not passive adverts, but useful branded tools that require interactivity. They create brand advocacy and allow subtle ads to be woven in to a positive new user experience.