CONNECTING THE DOTS
A Network Visualization Symposium
Date: October 22, 2010
The first CONNECTING THE DOTS symposium on network visualization organized by Michael Barnett, Jukka-Pekka Onnela, and Samuel Arbesman of The Christakis Lab at Harvard was held on October 22, 2010.
The NodeXL project will be represented by Ben Shneiderman who will speak at 2:00 PM on:
Analyzing Social Media Networks with NodeXL
Complete draft program for Connecting_the_Dots…
I spoke at the University of Michigan, School of Information on October 19th, 2010 about “Charting Collections of Connections in Social Media: Mapping and Measuring Social Media Networks to Find Key Positions and Structures“.
I demonstrated the ways social network data sets can be extracted from social media services like Facebook, Twitter, email, YouTube, and flickr. These network graphs can reveal information about the “shape” of the population in terms of the presence of sub-groups and communities within the larger population. In addition, each individual participant is located or positioned within the graph, helping to identify the people who are “core” versus those who are peripheral, as well as those who occupy the position of “bridge” between two otherwise separate groups.
The Yahoo Speaker Series at the School of Information supports distinguished guest lecturers from the fields of information and technology.
2010 Speaker: Marc Smith
VIDEO: Marc Smith
Marc Smith, chief social scientist with the Connected Action Social Group, presented “Charting Collections of Connections in Social Media: Mapping and Measuring Social Media Networks to Find Key Positions and Structures,” on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010.
Smith’s talk was sponsored by the Yahoo! Speaker Series, Michigan Interactive & Social Computing, and the School of Information.
In this talk, Smith described how networks are a data structure common across all social media systems — systems defined by enabling populations to author collections of connections. The Social Media Research Foundation‘s NodeXL project makes analysis of social media networks accessible to most users of the Excel spreadsheet application. Using NodeXL, networks become as easy to create and analyze as pie charts. Applying the tool to a range of social media networks has already revealed the variations present in online social spaces. A review of the tool and images of Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and e-mail networks will be presented, illustrating different patterns created when communities, brands, and controversies are discussed.
Using NodeXL, I have made several maps of social media networks of people talking about several topics of interest from current events to conferences I attend. You can find a collection of them on flickr.
I look at these images and look for differences in the number of big clusters: some images have a “double yolk” – that I propose is a necessary (but not necessarily sufficient) condition of defining a topic to be “controversial”. These two cluster networks have two well defined populations who lack much if any connection across the divide to the “other” side.
Some networks are highly populated but sparse, these are often the networks that form around brands where a central account tweets and is retweeted by many. But these many lack much connection to one another. So these brands form broadcast networks, not communities.
Some networks are dense single clusters with few if any “isolates”. Isolates are people who say a term, and thus appear in the graph, but have no connections (follows, replies, ore mentions) to anyone else in the graph (at least as observed and reported by twitter at that time). These dense clusters without isolates are topics where everyone is in-group. Examples, like “scrm”, are technical and business terms that identify medium sized populations with high levels of density.
Have a look and see what patterns you can find.
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I returned to South Africa to attend the 2010 edition of Mobile Web Africa, a conference focused on the remarkable adoption and development of mobile networks and technology in Africa.
The conference took place on 29th & 30th September 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
I presented a workshop on social media network analysis, see: http://www.mobilewebafrica.com/marc-smith-workshop.php
The conference twitter hashtag #MWA2010 received a significant amount of traffic. I mapped the collection of collections formed when people who tweeted “#MWA2010” also followed, replied, or mentioned one another. The following two EventMaps of the #MWA2010 twitter hashtag illustrates the development of the network.
Map of the connections among people who tweet “MWA2010” on October 5th, 2010
Map of the connections among people who tweet “MWA2010” on September 29th, 2010
The later graph is defined by three leading contributors who each generated significant retweeting along with mentions and replies.
I attended the previous 2009 Mobile Web Africa conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, organized by AllAmber Media which also featured a focus on the next wave of mobile devices and services.
Mobile is BIG in Africa. The “Remote control of the Universe” = Mobile Phone.
The speaker from Samsung last year noted that for many Africans, the mobile device is their first and main method for managing digital objects. A phone is not just a phone, it is a still and video camera, music player, watch, web browser, flashlight, wallet and file system.
The representative from Yonder Mobile Media noted that mobile phones have now exceeded the installed base of the previously most widely used communication technology: FM Radio. But mobile is different from FM: mobile devices are two way, provide a method for exchanging payments, and are a primary method of access to the internet for many billions of people. Mobile is the “first” screen for many people in Africa, not the third screen role that it plays in more developed economies. Regional services like MXIT and The Grid are offering Internet services tailored to affordable mobile devices.
Photos from this year’s event:
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Photos from last year’s event:
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Photos from Cape Town:
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I will present a workshop on NodeXL at the UC Davis Clinical and Translational Science Center‘s Community Engagement and Social Network Analysis workshop on September 23rd, 2010. Registration.
CTSA Community Engagement and Social Network Analysis Workshop
September 22-24, 2010
University of California Davis
Clinical and Translational Science Center
- Understand the basic concepts, tools, and techniques of Social Network Analysis (SNA) and how they relate to the evaluation of CTSAs and their impact on community research networks.
- Have sufficient exposure to a basic software tool for inputting and analyzing network data in order to undertake a simple social network analysis.
- Enumerate some possible uses of SNA and how to develop data collection tools or use existing sources to study the process and impact of CTSA on community engaged research.
- List primary authors of SNA analyses relevant to CTSA and community engaged research.
Presentation by Noshir Contractor from Northwestern University
10:30-Noon Demonstration of NodeXL Software
NodeXL is a free and open add-in for Excel that supports network overview, discovery and exploration. A contributor to NodeXL will provide basic instruction in its use, how to generate useful network statistics and metrics, how to create visualizations of network graphs and how to filter and display attributes that can be used to highlight important structures in networks.
1:00-1:45 Using NodeXL
Joe Hunt, MPH, Indiana University (with Marc Smith)
Using NodeXL to visualize interactions between investigators and CTSA key functions.
Sponsored in part by the Initiative on Information in Networks
Organizers: Sinan Aral, Foster Provost, Arun Sundararajan
“Last year’s workshop brought together a small yet influential community around topics that at their core involve ‘information in networks‘—its distribution, its diffusion, its value, and its influence on social and economic outcomes. Scholars from fields as diverse as computer science, economics, information systems, marketing, physics, political science and sociology came together to lay the foundation for ongoing relationships and to build a multidisciplinary research community. This year’s workshop will build on this foundation toward bringing more innovative content and vibrant discussion to the forum. Speakers will share their recent research, which may have been published elsewhere, but which may not be widely known outside of their own disciplines. The workshop will combine invited and contributed talks with poster presentations selected from a pool of submitted abstracts. We hope the energy of New York City will inspire the gathering, and that our participants will leave with new ideas and a renewed sense of community.”
Ben Shneiderman and Jenny Preece will speak about their work on social media applied to national priorities with a talk titled: “Promoting National Initiatives for Technology-Mediated Social Participation“. The talk includes their work creating NSF workshops on Technology-Mediated Social Participation (www.tmsp.umd.edu), the paper Reader-to-Leader Framework: Motivating technology-mediated social participation (which appeared in the AIS Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction in March 2009), and recent work with the Encyclopedia of Life (www.eol.org), and NodeXL projects. Here is the abstract.
WIN10 speakers include:
Ron Burt, University of Chicago
Nicholas Christakis, Harvard University
Nathan Eagle, MIT
Sanjeev Goyal, Cambridge University
Matthew Jackson, Stanford University
Jenny Preece, University of Maryland
Ben Shneiderman, University of Maryland
Tony Jebara, Columbia University
David Jensen, University of Massachussetts
Michael Kearns, University of Pennsylvania
Rachel Kranton, Duke University
David Lazer, Northeastern University
Mark Newman, University of Michigan (tentative)
Alex Sandy Pentland, MIT
Alessandro Vespignani, Indiana University
Stanley Wasserman, Indiana University
Duncan Watts, Yahoo! Research
The book Analyzing social media networks with NodeXL: Insights from a connected world has recently published from Morgan-Kaufman. It is nice to see the advertisement for the book running in the current edition of Interactions Magazine from the ACM.
Thanks to Adam Perer for the blurb!
The book Analyzing Social Media Networks with NodeXL: Insights from a connected world is now available [Amazon] from Morgan-Kaufman. Co-authored by Professor Derek Hansen (College of Information Studies) and Professor Ben Shneiderman (Computer Science/Human Computer Interaction Lab) from the University of Maryland and Marc Smith from Connected Action, the book is a introduction and guide to the application of social network analysis to social media. The introductory chapters introduce the history and concepts of social network analysis an the varieties of social media, highlighting the presence of a common data structure, the network, in otherwise diverse social media systems including email, Twitter, Facebook, the WWW, Wikis, Blogs, flickr, an YouTube. The central section of the book reviews a step-by-step guide to using the key features of NodeXL, the free and open social media network analysis add-in for Excel 2007 and 2010. Readers can move from simple hand entered networks of a few nodes up to complex graphs extracted from a variety of social media services. The remainder of the book are focused chapters dedicated to analyzing the networks found within a specific social media service. These chapters were contributed by leading social media researchers and illustrate the insights that can be extracted from the otherwise disorganized stream of messages, tweets, posts, comments, links, likes, tags, friends, follows, mentions, replies and ratings. A recent article about the book can be found on the Morgan-Kaufmann website.
Table of contents…
In many cases I look at a network graph and apply a series of operations to transform it into a more presentable form. For example, I often calculate graph metrics, use Autofill columns to map data to display attributes like size, color, or shape, create clusters, sub-graph images, and then select the Harel-Koren layout and select the options so that small components get lined up in neat rows at the bottom of the graph. I like the edges to be gray and partially transparent. I often set the font size to a large 24 points because I scale the graph to about 10% of its full size to reduce occlusion.
Carrying out each of these operations once is no problem. Repeat 100 times and there is a problem.
The NodeXL team completed another phase of our automation feature, allowing users to build a refined graph with any set of configuration that can be applied to any number of other networks.
Along with the automated collection system, NodeXL can now generate a regular stream of network graphs from social media sources.