A new free and open project to implement a web based social network visualization front end is available on Codeplex: the "Information Connections Engine (ICE) is a Silverlight based framework that allows .net developers to easily visualize any type of…
On August 5th and 6th I led a workshop with Martha Russell on social network analysis of social media as part of the Stanford Media X Summer Institute on New Metrics for New Media: Analytics for Social Media and Virtual Worlds this Summer.
Social media and virtual worlds offer two important frontiers for measuring earned engagement. In both, audiences are actively engaged as participants. This workshop covered foundational concepts in media measurement, describe new frontiers in measuring audience engagement in social media and virtual worlds, and provided hands-on experience in using new analytical tools.
This session also provided a walk through the basic operation of NodeXL, including generation of social networks from social media data sources like personal e-mail (drawing data from the Windows Desktop Search engine) and the Twitter social network micro-blogging system. Arbitrary edge lists (anything that can be pasted into Excel) can be visualized and analyzed in NodeXL. Attendees were encouraged to bring an edge list of interest. Sample data sets were provided.
Agenda WEDNESDAY, August 5: #124 Wallenberg Hall
08.30 – 09.00 – Welcome, Introductions & Overview
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.
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:
Last week’s NodeXL meeting focused on the coming work items for the next release. Four major items are lined up for the next few weeks. We may publish a release once a few of these items are complete.
> Legends and axes with scale marks for the chart canvass.
This is part of our larger work item called “Make the charts ready to publish”. A related work item to address this goal is export to a vector file format. A scalable vector format will allow people to create graphs of arbitrary resolutions to fit their presentation needs.
> Export to XPS (which should make it possible to get our files to PDF with some 3rd party help!)
Since NodeXL is intended to support non-programmer network analysts we plan to add support for other network analysis file formats. A leading example is the UCINet format which has the added virtue of holding many sample data sets that are widely used in classes and network course work. If you have a network data file format you would like NodeXL to support feel free to comment here or on the Codeplex NodeXL discussion.
> UCINet file format compatibility
Improvements to the layout of complex graphs is a deep area of research. A recent member of the NodeXL team, Janez Brank has proposed and prototyped an alternative mechanism for node layout, namely the Fast Multi-Scale Method from Harel and Koren. This method initially selects a small subset of nodes and lays them out; this initial layout is then refined in several iterations, with more and more nodes added to the layout in each iteration, until a layout of the entire graph is created. The cost function used to optimize the layout at each step is designed to reward layouts in which the Euclidean distance between nodes corresponds approximately to the length of the shortest path between them. Our developer, Tony Capone, plans to implement the design in the coming weeks. We have not added a new layout for a while and those recent additions have been deterministic geometric layouts like grid, circle, and sine wave. We have never added an alternative to the Fruchterman-Reingold force directed layout with which we started the project. This is a big feature addition that should have a big impact in making NodeXL layouts more visually appealing and informative.
> Updated layout #1
We hope these features deliver a lot of value to our users and address the big themes the team is working towards: Scale, Clarity, and Connection. We seek to make NodeXL perform against reasonably sized data sets, to improve the exploration and discovery of structures in graphs, and to simplify the import and export of data between NodeXL and social media network data sources beyond the email and Twitter support present in the application today.
Some other features that we have been considering include:
New menu items have been added to NodeXL in the v.85 release made available today! These "Visual Properties" features are part of a larger set of work items intended to make it easier to manipulate and decorate a network graph…