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K-State Today

May 6, 2013



NodeXL series highlights free tool for data visualization of social media

By Shalin Hai-Jew

With an abundance of data from social media platforms, various tools have been created to extract data from these sites and then to enable ways to visualize the information. The graph below is a data crawl of the USGAO account on Twitter, the microblogging site.

An interactive version of the graph above is available. Users may zoom into the graph and scroll over each of the nodes to view the Twitter account represented.

A free and open-source add-on to Microsoft Excel, NodeXL is one of the foremost tools that enable analysis of social media information.  NodeXL, Network Overview, Discovery and Exploration for Excel, enables the visualization of social data in network diagrams.  It also enables the extraction of social media platform data from spaces such as Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and in a fairly limited way, Facebook, through the application programming interfaces, or APIs, of these various sites.

With additional work, this software tool may be used to conduct analysis of email networks, wiki and blog networks, and even Internet site networks.

This 12-part series highlights some of the basic functionalities of NodeXL. Each part focuses on an aspect of the tool.

  1. The NodeXL Graph Gallery, Part 1
  2. Downloading NodeXL, Part 2
  3. Visualizing NodeXL Graphs, Part 3
  4. Conducting a Crawl of Flickr for a Content Network, Part 4
  5. Conducting a Hashtag Network Search of Twitter, Part 5
  6. Conducting a Twitter User Network Crawl, Part 6
  7. Conducting a Data Extraction of a YouTube Video Network, Part 7
  8. Conducting a Data Crawl of a Facebook Fan Page, Part  8
  9. Using VOSON for Hyperlink Network Analysis, Part 9
  10. Conducting a Data Crawl of an 'Event Graph,' Part 10
  11. Extracting a User Network from Flickr, Part 11
  12. Publishing to the NodeXL Graph Gallery, Part 12

This software add-on is used in social network analysis.

Final note: NodeXL is a free and open-source tool that is available from Microsoft’s CodePlex site, which is a space for project hosting for open-source software, and it is sponsored by the Social Media Research Foundation.