We are comfortable using maps to navigate about the surface of the good ole planet Earth. We are unfamiliar with the connectivity of our expanding social graphs online. Second order connections immediately expand our social reach to perhaps many thousands of people located throughout the globe. But how do we know immediately who knows eachother, what their reach and influence are, and just as important what topics they are experts in?
My suggestion is a personalized 2D or 3D realization of our social connections. The proximity to neighbors in this virtual reality is clustered by expertise and topic. We in turn have full access to a high level zoomed out view which allows us to quickly discover information shared by people we know or trust and zoom into others that contribute to their topic space. Most nodes (people) in the social representation will likely be present in a few different regions, but with varying expertise or influence. Perhaps node intensity will distinguish an authority calculation.
This representation will serve as an interface to semantic tagged shared real time information merged with crowd sourced regularly filtered data. Both real time status from facebook and Twitter, as well as rss feeds of blogs, delicious, or reddit can feed into the virtual info globe. The natural direction of this method of information retrieval is that content and user elected quality are first priority, while the particular broadcaster is a secondary concern. Over time, from simple voting user feedback will increase the informational authority of a content creator within a subdomain. Individuals in your social graph help you define the topic focus and navigate the info globe space.
We may wish to merge spaces to a distributed real time map so that we have familiar clusters of information sources, but highlight our preferred social leaders in each area. Our personal favorite content creators can be distinguished by color for easy discovery.
When we zoom into a topic region at first we see images, microblog like messages, and article titles. As we close in full blog like content becomes visible connecting us to original sites.