Back to the Future: Step into the LinkedIn Connection Timeline

May 25, 2011

Another month, another Hackday winner! This month we’d like to feature a Hackday product – LinkedIn Connection Timeline – that helps you visualize the connections you’ve made on LinkedIn over the past years. Check out other Hackday winners here. - Ed.

As a web developer at LinkedIn, I spend most of my time thinking about new user experiences for visualizing professional data. During our most recent Hackday at LinkedIn, I had the opportunity to share one of these ideas with the rest of the company.  I’m also excited to say that the LinkedIn Connection Timeline is now live on LinkedIn Labs!

Check out your LinkedIn Timeline Now!

A few months ago, I found myself thinking about my connections and the nature of my LinkedIn network. There was an "aha!" moment where I realized that LinkedIn has a unique characteristic which others lack -- it is three-dimensional. The first dimension is the actual connection. The second is the implicit grouping of connections which tie the social graph together. Many social networks have these first two dimensions, but what makes LinkedIn's network special is its third dimension: time.

Our users' profiles describe a story of their career trajectories, from humble beginnings in college and your first job to the here and now. Once I had this epiphany, I thought it’d be cool to create a visualization that would enable LinkedIn users to view the connections they've made throughout the span of their careers. Using two simple Javascript API calls, I built an early prototype of what would eventually become the Connection Timeline.

As I began to add more visual elements to the timeline, I realized that I needed a designer to help me manage the clutter on the visual elements, while at the same time causing a aha moment when you see it scroll. I enlisted the help of my colleague Bruno Medeiros, who took a project that was rough around the edges and turned it into something really elegant and polished. The final product is what you see below.

One of the really interesting things about the Connection Timeline is that no two career time lines look alike. Each mirrors the path that a professional took to get to where they are today. As you can see, my timeline is slightly sparse, representing a mere seven-year span so far. What does yours look like?

Check out LinkedIn Timeline and let us know what you think