OS Plugin Proposal: A Navigable "Graph" or "Network" view of links between Topics

I am excited to share that I am starting an effort to develop a “graph” (or “network”) view of the interconnections between topics in a Discourse forum. This was inspired both by my experiences with so-called “Tools for Thought” (TfT), e.g. Obsidian, Roam, as well as my use of Discourse as a Digital Garden.

The Idea

Discourse already includes useful and interesting functionality to handle “backlinks”, an increasingly popular feature of TfT apps. But the only way to discover the connections between topics is to visit each one and see what links to it. What if you could actually visualize these connections all at once? And what if you could see patterns, like topics in one category linking more frequently to topics in another category? Might it surface some novel insights, or even just be a fun way to explore a Discourse forum? I certainly think so!

Related Plugins

Of course there is already the existing “Community Network Visualization” plugin by @merefield, but that focuses on user interactions rather than topic links. It’s a great start, and if Robert would be interested in work on this topic network view project, that would be fantastic!

Find Out More

As I began to pursue this idea, I decided to approach it in an open source and collaborative way, and start by trying to connect with people at the intersection of TfT and Discourse. So I started an initial discussion over on the Fission Codes community, which also runs on Discourse, and who earlier this year successfully funded development of the novel Wikilinks plugin (also inspired by TfT). If you want to find out more about the Discourse Topic Graph View plugin idea, there is a detailed breakdown of how I think this plugin could work there in my initial post:

Funding

The Fission folks were kind enough to help me set up an OpenCollective and act as fiscal sponsors, as well as to commit some amount of funding to the project for a year. I’m also committing $100CAD/mo to the project for a year, as soon as we have a developer join the project. In the meantime I’ve made an initial $100 contribution to get things started.

Join Us!

At this point we’re most especially looking for developers to contribute, but of course funding contributions, as well as ideas, constructive criticism, etc. are also welcome! Feel free to chime-in here or over on the Fission Codes topic.

Note: I am posting this under Features because this is not strictly a “marketplace” (commercial) endeavor. Feel free to move it if this is not the best category.

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