Three papers on social media networks (and photos) at Social Computing 2009

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.

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Along with several co-authors, I contributed to three papers in this year’s conference:


First Steps to Netviz Nirvana

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.