The idea of money and currencies as flows in networks is not new. German sociologist Georg Simmel put forth similar ideas in his Philosophy of Money. With Bitcoin we finally have a currency that not only links people (or: nodes) together in financial transactions, but the network is transparent. But experts argue that the currency is just one of many applications that can be built on the Blockchain algorithm and database powering Bitcoin. This way of linking nodes can be used to weave authentication layers in all sorts of networked applications e.g. the Internet of Things.
This combination of open and transparent data available through various interfaces or APIs in combination with a networked data structure should be a jackpot for data visualizers and information designers. So we took a look around to find the most impressive ways of visualizing the Bitcoin transaction flows. Some of the following visualizations even come with recipes.
Even more impressive is this visualization by the same author of all the Bitcoin nodes and the node density. Although the network structure is not clearly visible, it really suggests that there is a new “universe” evolving in finance:
2. The following visualization uses the Open Source vivagraph.js library to display the networked nature of Bitcoin. You can see Bitcoin transaction happening in real-time and the evolving hubs of the Bitcoin network.
3. This one by luchendricks goes in the same direction – it is also a visualization of live Bitcoin transaction. Here the size of the nodes represents the volume of the transaction. Every node also carries a link to all information on the transaction on bitcoin.info.
4. To show the global nature of Bitcoin, the following live-map by Wizbit not only displays the transactions but also the latest discovered Bitcoin blocks (wow, someone in the USA just found a block of 2479 Bitcoins which is worth about 580,000 USD). The WebGL globe visualization is also available on Github.
5. This visualization “The Bitcoin Big Bang” by Elliptic is one of the most beautiful visualizations of Bitcoin history at the moment:
6. Blockseer is more of a visual research tool than a creative visualization of the Bitcoin universe. You can visualize transactions and blocks in a detailed tree diagram:
7. For those of you that want to try creating your own visualizations with the public Bitcoin APIs, here’s a very interesting interactive notebook “Follow the Cryptocurrency” by Dato that shows all the different steps of accessing, analyzing and interpreting Bitcoin data.
Finally, here’s some examples we did at DataLion to query and visualize the blockchain with R: