The NodeXL project hit a milestone this week with 250,000 downloads.
Thanks to our users for their continued interest and support of the NodeXL project!
The network created by “Who follows who among the people who tweeted “#CHI2010”. Node size is proportional to total tweets. Generated with NodeXL
On October 29th, I will be offering a workshop in Mountain View, California on the application of social network analysis to the measurement of social media.
The workshop will run from 9m to 4pm and include hands-on exercises using real world social media data sets and the free and open NodeXL social network analysis add-in for Excel 2007. We will create social network metrics and visualizations from personal email, twitter, facebook, and message board records to reveal the broad outline of a community, its various kinds of leaders and active participants, major cliques and clusters, and pivotal events.
The workshop will make use of the NodeXL tutorial:
I will post the slides for those who cannot attend, but the live event will allow me to help those interested in learning how to visualize social media networks and generate and interpret social network metrics. What’s an “eigenvector centrality”? Come find out why that number highlights special people in a network and how to calculate it on your own network data sets. Find experts, identify the people who are most heavily connected, and key contributors. If you plan to attend, it would be great if you bring sample data: any edge list or matrix is fine. We can plot and measure sample data participants bring along with them.
I will demonstrate how to create twitter network maps like the one above which shows networks of follows connections among a group of people who tweeted the string “#CHI2010” (as returned by search.twitter.com). You can make your own twitter maps with NodeXL! Similar maps can be made with a user name. In the workshop we will be sure to make a twitter network for anyone there who tweets.
Upon completion of this workshop, participants will:
* be able to understand the basics of SNA, its terminology and background.
* be able to transform communication data (e.g. Twitter, email, flickr, message boards etc.) into network data.
* understand the different possible presentations of social networks, e.g. in a matrix or a sociogram.
* apply network metrics and visualizations to find clusters and key contributors in real world social media data sets.
* get familiar with the use of standard SNA tools and software in general and the NodeXL social network analysis add-in for Excel in particular.
* be able to derive practical and useful information through SNA analysis that would help design an innovative and successful online community.
Who should attend? People interested in community management, social media monitoring and marketing, knowledge management, collaboration and human resources, legal discovery, organizational behavior and management
This weekend is the Social Computing 2009 conference in Vancouver, B.C. It is a gathering of many people doing research on social media useage. Many papers are about tagging systems, blogs, wikis, message boards, and social networking services.
[flickrset id=”72157622064119361″ thumbnail=”square”]
Along with several co-authors, I contributed to three papers in this year’s conference:
Bonsignore, E.M., Dunne, C., Rotman, D., Smith, M., Capone, T., Hansen, D.L. & Shneiderman, B. (2009), “First steps to NetViz Nirvana: evaluating social network analysis with NodeXL”, In SIN ’09: Proc. international symposium on Social Intelligence and Networking. IEEE Computer Society Press.
Abstract: Social Network Analysis (SNA) has evolved as a popular, standard method for modeling meaningful, often hidden structural relationships in communities. Existing SNA tools often involve extensive pre-processing or intensive programming skills that can challenge practitioners and students alike. NodeXL, an open-source template for Microsoft Excel, integrates a library of common network metrics and graph layout algorithms within the familiar spreadsheet format, offering a potentially low-barrier to-entry framework for teaching and learning SNA. We present the preliminary findings of 2 user studies of 21 graduate students who engaged in SNA using NodeXL. The majority of students, while information professionals, had little technical background or experience with SNA techniques. Six of the participants had more technical backgrounds and were chosen specifically for their experience with graph drawing and information visualization. Our primary objectives were (1) to evaluate NodeXL as an SNA tool for a broad base of users and (2) to explore methods for teaching SNA. Our complementary dual case-study format demonstrates the usability of NodeXL for a diverse set of users, and significantly, the power of a tightly integrated metrics/visualization tool to spark insight and facilitate sensemaking for students of SNA.
Analyzing Enterprise Social Media Networks
Smith, M., Hansen, D., Gleave, E. (2009) Analyzing Enterprise Social Media Networks in SCA’09 Proc. International Symposium on Social Computing Applications. IEEE Computer Society Press.
Abstract: Broadening adoption of social media applications within the enterprise offers a new and valuable data source for insight into the social structure of organizations. Social media applications generate networks when employees use features to create “friends” or “contact” networks, reply to messages from other users, edit the same documents as others, or mention the same or similar topics. The resulting networks can be analyzed to reveal basic insights into an organization’s structure and dynamics. The creation and analysis of sample social media network datasets is described to illustrate types of enterprise networks and considerations for their analysis.
Whither the Experts
Welser, H. Gleave, E., Smith, M., Barash, V., Meckes, J. (2009) “Whither the Experts? Social affordances and the cultivation of experts in community Q&A systems”, in SIN ’09: Proc. International symposium on Social Intelligence and Networking. IEEE Computer Society Press.
Abstract: Community based Question and Answer systems have been promoted as web 2.0 solutions to the problem of finding expert knowledge. This promise depends on systems’ capacity to attract and sustain experts capable of offering high quality, factual answers. Content analysis of dedicated contributors’ messages in the Live QnA system found: (1) few contributors who focused on providing technical answers (2) a preponderance of attention paid to opinion and discussion, especially in non-technical threads. This paucity of experts raises an important general question: how do the social affordances of a site alter the ecology of roles found there? Using insights from recent research in online community, we generate a series of expectations about how social affordances are likely to alter the role ecology of online systems.
A shout out to my co-authors Eric Gleave, Howard (“Ted”) Welser, and Tom Lento – our paper “A conceptual and operational definition of “Social Role” in Online Community” got the best paper award at HICSS-42! The Hawaii International Conference of System Sciences has featured a great series of mini tracks over the years. The Persistent Conversations mini track has featured great work on threaded conversations, blogs, chats, wikis, and social media for more than a decade. This year our paper appeared in the Digital Media: Content and Communication Track.
With a very nice letter that puts the award in some context:
Ten papers out of 515 at the conference were selected for Best Paper Awards. Many thanks to track organizers Karrie Karahalios and Fernanda Viegas.
A previous paper in 2006 also got best paper: You Are Who You Talk To: Detecting Roles in Usenet Newsgroups, by Danyel Fisher, Marc Smith, and Howard T. Welser
Two years before that in 2004 Fernanda Viegas and I also published a paper at HICSS that got best paper: Newsgroup Crowds and AuthorLines: Visualizing the Activity of Individuals in Conversational Cyberspaces,
by Ferndanda B. Viégas and Marc Smith.
Tom Erickson maintains a great listing of many years of HICSS papers.
Here is Tom Lento receiving the award at the conference in Hawaii earlier this month:
More Best Papers from this year…
Forester recently released its review of leading social media platforms.
They conclude that communities are a powerful way for businesses to grow. Community and social media have ROI!
The segment is getting crowded, over 100 vendors and growing, but only few cleared Forrester’s threshold for robustness and feature richness.
Forrester evaluated nine social media platforms in depth and called out Jive Software and Telligent Systems on the strengths of the administrative and platform features and the company’s support and customization track record.
The other leaders included in the report: KickApps and Pluck, Awareness, Lithium Technologies, Mzinga, LiveWorld and Leverage Software.
This is great news for Telligent, of course, and we are happy to provide a copy of the Forrester report just for asking (and trading some contact information): http://telligent.com/forrester-report/.
Others are noting that social analytics are key differentiators in social media platforms:
Telligent’s Harvest Social Media reporting platform provides a rich set of features for tracking activity in your community.
International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM) 2008
Some dimensions of social media
Talk reviews sociological concepts of social media and visualizations of computer-mediated collective behavior.
I will be presenting an overview of social media visualization soon at the conference on Visualization and Data Analysis 2009 in San Jose, January 19th,2009 (http://vw.indiana.edu/vda2009/)
9:30 am: Invited Presentation: Visualizing Roles in Social Media,
Marc A. Smith, Chief Social Scientist for the Telligent Corporation (http://www.telligent.com)
Abstract: Social media systems on the Internet allow for the collective creation of resources that can have real value. In the process of creating these resources social network structures are also created. Mining these structures and related patterns of activity can reveal the inner workings and dynamics of computer-mediated social spaces. By creating a series of images from these data sources key social roles that make up the engine of social production can be illustrated. The aggregate of these roles suggests a shift in focus in the study of these spaces from individual differences to the collective ensemble or ecology of social media.
After ten years at Microsoft Research I have decided it is time to move on. My time at MSR has been a remarkable one. I have had the opportunity to work with very smart and focused people intent on making technical strides on many defining aspects of computing. It has been a pleasure to work with many talented people to bring better analysis of social media into the user generated content creation and consumption loop. We built tools to data mine and visualize conversation repositories to give participants and managers better reports on their activities. We discovered the ways participants in social media repositories perform different roles that can be identified by different patterns of computer-mediated interactions. We applied those ideas to personal email triage and patterns of email usage. We pushed ideas related to mobile devices and location based social networking and object annotation. We built a number of tools for visualizing the patterns and (social) network structures in the data created by the use of computer-mediated interaction tools.
These projects point towards a world in which computers and mobile devices do more than connect us to the network, they will sense the world around us and reason about both our location and who is with us. Combined with back-end data mining, new mobile sensor studded devices are coming that will alter the nature of social interaction in its last, most analog hold out: face-to-face, co-present interaction.
I want to explore this change in the nature of what the sociologist Erving Goffman referred to as the “interaction order“. We are living through the early stages of the “electrification of the interaction order”, a time in which the ways we interact with one another is changed dramatically by the availability of mobile social information networks. Online social networking, content sharing and discussion systems have effects that are multiplied when channeled through a device carried by every person and active in every interaction, however fleeting.
Imagine going to a business meeting or conference and having Facebook suggest that you link to the people you spent the longest time talking to. Mobile social computing will add more content to the torrent already generated by “desktop” experiences. Some projects are already digging into this area: good examples include companies and products like nTag.com, SpotMe.Com, and the many trail and path tracking applications now appearing in the iPhone AppStore. Scott Counts and I wrote about a location based social networking application that demonstrated many of these features as well as search and matching features that have yet to appear in the first wave of production systems.
A first step in this direction is to focus more on the analytic back-ends that will be needed for the management of all forms of social media repositories. Community analysis servers that provide a dashboard of community health and activity indicators will be a critical differentiating feature for community hosts, managers, and leading participants. Successful communities will be those that can cultivate contribution the best while managing conflict at the lowest cost. Once desktop bound social encounters are channeled through an analytics console more real-world events sensed by mobile devices can be added to the mix.
I am looking forward to some time to push back and reflect more about these changes while looking around for new ways to explore them. I will take some time to get my family settled into our new home in California. I hope to catch up with many people! I will also be visiting Yale, University of Maryland and Berkely for talks this fall. I plan to attend the Microsoft Research Social Computing Symposium in Redmond (it will be good to be back!) and the Conference on Information and Knowledge Management (CIKM) in Sonoma.
My old firstname.lastname@example.org email address is no longer active, so please contact me at marc.smith.email at gmail.com.
I look forward to staying in touch with my many friends and colleagues at Microsoft while finding the time now to meet with a wide range of people interested in social media.