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New Tutorial Available: Analyzing Social Media Networks: Learning by Doing with NodeXL


My colleagues Derek Hansen and Ben Shneiderman (University of Maryland) and I have just finished the second version of our tutorial/manual for the NodeXL social network analysis toolkit for Excel.

The latest version of the tutorial Analyzing Social Media Networks: Learning by Doing with NodeXL is now available from the University of Maryland Center for the Advanced Study of Communities and Information (CASCI) web site.  We will use this version of the document in our upcoming tutorial at the Communities and Technologies conference at Penn State University on June 24th.

We plan to continue to expand the tutorial to include a step-by-step guide to the analysis of several major social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia, YouTube, delicious, and flickr as well as personal stores of social media like your own email (if it is stored in a Windows Search Index found on most Windows desktops).  Our goal is to create an easy-to-follow guide to network theory for people who new to the field or who do not want to develop programming skills to perform network analysis.  We are focused on social media as a data source for social media although other examples are included,  like the United States Senate voting network that reveals interesting patterns in the connections created when votes are cast.  Using 2007 data it reveals which Senators are most likely to change party affiliation.
NodeXL Screenshot - US Senate

Your comments, corrections, and suggestions for improving the document are welcome.

Instructors interested in teaching classes about social networks are welcome to make use of both the NodeXL toolkit and the document to guide students through the core concepts of social network theory.

Here is the table of contents:

1) Basic: Getting started with NodeXL

Data entry
Showing the graph
Highlighting an edge
Importing an edge list

2) Layout: Arranging Vertices in the Graph Pane

Automatic Layout
Directed Graph Type
Updating the Graph Pane
Manual Layout
Preserving manual layout
Zooming and Scale

3) Visual Design: Making network displays meaningful

Vertex Colors
Adding Descriptive Data
Changing Vertex Size (and other properties)
AutoFilling Columns
Changing General Graph Appearance

4) Labeling: adding text labels to vertices and links

Adding Primary Labels
Adding Secondary Labels
Adding Tooltips

5) Graph Metrics: Calculating and visualizing metrics

Computing Graph Metrics
Saving a NodeXL File
Kite Network Example
Opening an existing NodeXL File
Overall Metrics
Vertex Metrics
Betweenness Centrality
Closeness Centrality
Eigenvector Centrality
Clustering Coefficient

6) Preparing Data: Merging Edges and Sorting to Label Data

SeriousEats Analysis
Merging Duplicate Edges
Sorting Data
Auto-Filling Data Columns

7) Filtering: Reducing clutter to reveal important features

Dynamic Filters
Filtering by Autofilling the Visibility Column
Subgraph Images
Putting It All Together

8) Clustering: Identifying and displaying vertex clusters

2007 Senate Voting Analysis
Creating Clusters Manually
Changing Advanced Layout Options
Creating Clusters Automatically
Showing and Hiding Clusters

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