Francis Bacon- Master Networker

The Six Degrees of Francis Bacon project is an open source, collaborative work designed to visualize connections between Francis Bacon and other early philosophers and scholars in their work based on data located in a database full of texts. The primary collaborators consist of members of the Carnegie Melon University Libraries, where the website is hosted, however, the project has received support from a variety of sources (more about history of project).

The nodes represent individual scholars, and the edges represent the relationships to other scholars in the network. The title of the project, Six Degrees of Francis Bacon, is indicative of the parameters of the network: nodes are made up of people as distant as 6 degrees away from Bacon (6 connections link Bacon and the most distant nodes).

Home page for Six Degrees of Francis Bacon

Additional visual cues make the graph easier to interpret. For one, the size of nodes are greater the closer the individuals are in relation to Bacon. Also, individuals directly connected to Bacon (with a degree of 1) have a shaded node, whereas more distant nodes are empty.

Detailed info for clicked-on node. Here, Thomas Hobbes is clicked on. Only directly related nodes and edges appear in the network, and an informative pop-up appears in the top left showing the timeline of Hobbes and gives the option to Visualize the extended network of him.

Among the coolest features of the network is the informative pop-up for a node when clicked. By clicking on a node, all edges and nodes fade except for those immediately connected to the node and an informative pop-up appears in the top left corner detailing the name of the individual and their lifespan. It also has a Visualize button which triggers a modified network to be presented where the individual is the root node and all distant connections are included (just as the default network appears, but Francis Bacon is the root node).



  1. I really love the interactivity of this project! This website looks really interesting. Is there anything you would add or change to enable more interaction with the data?

  2. Wow this is such a detailed network. I like how you included a second screenshot of the network after you clicked on it in a different way, this is helpful for understanding how the network functions interactively. I wonder why they chose to focus on Francis Bacon?

  3. My project (Inventing Abstraction) isolated a person’s connections when clicked, too. A next step I’d like to see for both of our projects is more information on the exact documented relationships (here, maybe excerpts of letters between Bacon or the dates they were interacting?) instead of only short biographical info.

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