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K-State Today

January 15, 2014



Webinar Jan. 31: Charting Collections of Connections in Social Media: Creating Maps and Measures with NodeXL

By Shalin Hai-Jew

#bubble hashtag search on a Twitter graph with motifs identified (a NodeXL graph)

Marc A. Smith, chief social scientist at the Connected Action Consulting Group, will present a webinar on "Charting Collections of Connections in Social Media: Creating Maps and  Measures with NodeXL" from 1-2:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, in 301 Hale Library. All are welcome to attend.

"Networks are a data structure commonly found across all social media services that allow 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. With NodeXL, networks become as easy to create 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 email networks will be presented," writes Smith.

"We now live in a sea of tweets, posts, blogs, and updates coming from a significant fraction of the people in the connected world," Smith said. "Our personal and professional relationships are now made up as much of texts, emails, phone calls, photos, videos, documents, slides, and game play as by face-to-face interactions. Social media can be a bewildering stream of comments, a daunting fire hose of content. With better tools and a few key concepts from the social sciences, the social media swarm of favorites, comments, tags, likes, ratings, and links can be brought into clearer focus to reveal key people, topics and sub-communities. As more social interactions move through machine-readable data sets new insights and illustrations of human relationships and organizations become possible. But new forms of data require new tools to collect, analyze and communicate insights.

"Using NodeXL, users can easily make a map of public social media conversations around topics that matter to them," he said. "Maps of the connections among the people who recently said the name of a product, brand or event can reveal key positions and clusters in the crowd. Some people who talk about a topic are more in the 'center' of the graph, they may be key influential members in the population. NodeXL makes it a simple task to sort people in a population by their network location to find key people in core or bridge positions. NodeXL supports the exploration of social media with import features that pull data from personal email indexes on the desktop, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Facebook and www hyperlinks. The tool allows nonprogrammers to quickly generate useful network statistics and metrics and create visualizations of network graphs," Smith said.

Smith is a sociologist specializing in the social organization of online communities and computer mediated interaction. He leads the Connected Action Consulting Group and lives and works in Silicon Valley, California. Smith co-founded the Social Media Research Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to open tools, data and scholarship related to social media research.

See the full article in IT News for more about the Social Media Research Foundation, books, online resources and Smith's extended bio.