Intended to be an introduction and guide to the application of social network analysis (SNA) to the realm of social media, readers interested in how we can use methodologies of SNA and mathematical applications of graph and networking theory, to analyze the social media networks that form when individuals link-up or respond to each other, will want to purchase and study this book.
First, some background notes. This book has its roots in the work of an organization that has received generous funding support from Microsoft, called The Social Media Research Foundation. The Foundation has made significant progress in the development of open tools and open data sets for the purpose of encouraging open scholarship in the realm of social media and worked hard to develop tools that allow for better visualization and analysis of such widely used services as email, Wikis, Twitter, flickr, YouTube, Facebook, and the World Wide Web (WWW).
However, tracking content flowing through social media can be like trying to drink from an open fire hose. Realizing this, the Foundation began to focus resources and personnel on efforts to utilize ideas from the social sciences to follow the "social media swarm" of comments, favorites, product tags, ratings and links, in order to discern the key words, individuals and topics being communicated here and there. One of the tangible results of their work is the Foundation's release of a free and open product referred to as "NodeXL." The application itself is "a spreadsheet add-in," that is designed to support macro-views of networks for the purpose of "discovery and exploration." The Microsoft-funded research team built this tool to fit inside the user's copy of Excel in either Office 2007or 2010.
Does it work? Well, users say that it "makes the creation of social network maps as easy as making a pie chart."
Users can use NodeXL to make maps of public social media conversations based upon topics that matter to them. These maps of connections between people who mention a product, or a brand or some other key word or phrase, can reveal to users key positions and clusters in the crowded social networks. In this manner, users can zero-in on individuals who discuss a topic as they appear to be the "center" of the display and often are one of the key and influential members of the population being analyzed as well as have the ability to measure changes over time.
With small and multinational businesses alike, entrepreneurs, private individuals, and State and Federal government agencies all looking to SNA tools for help in discerning trends, networking connections, and changes in social media interactions, Microsoft's NodeXL free, open-source plug-in for use with Excel provides users with instant graphical representations of the relationships that exist between complex networked data. This is an obvious breakthrough for researchers, students and end-users alike who seek to study and understand visual and network analytics and develop applications useful in the real world.
Still interested? Then, this is a book for you - as members of the application development teams present readers with good overview case studies and how-to explanations regarding the developments behind each NodeXL application feature. Here's the table-of-contents to whet your interest:
I. Getting Started with Analyzing Social Media Networks
1. Introduction to Social Media and Social Networks
2. Social media: New Technologies of Collaboration
3. Social Network Analysis: Measuring, Mapping, and Modeling Collections of Connections
II. NodeXL Tutorial: Learning by Doing
4. Getting Started with NodeXL, Layout, Visual Design, and Labeling
5. Calculating and Visualizing Network Metrics
6. Preparing Data and Filtering
7. Clustering and Grouping
III Social Media Network Analysis Case Studies
8. Email: The Lifeblood of Modern Communication
9. Thread Networks: Mapping Message Boards and Email Lists
10. Twitter: Conversation, Entertainment, and Information, All in One Network!
11. Visualizing and Interpreting Facebook Networks
12. WWW Hyperlink Networks
13. Flickr: Linking People, Photos, and Tags
14. YouTube: Contrasting Patterns of Interaction and Prominence
15. Wiki Networks: Connections of Creativity and Collaboration
Appendix- NodeXL for Programmers
Principal authors are - from the University of Maryland - Derek L. Hansen of the iSchool and Ben Shneiderman of the Department of Computer Science and with Marc A. Smith, a sociologist, that is presently Chief Social Scientist with the Connected Action Consulting Group in Silicon Valley, California.
Highly recommended for college and university library collections, and readers interested in methodologies used to better understand the social networks permeating our personal and professional lives.
R. Neil Scott, MBA/MSLS
Middle Tennessee State University