Sunday, July 26, 2015

Unit 3: Mapping Your Social Network

I am by nature a very kinetic and visual learner. You may have a sense of this already from the first two artifact challenges (the photo introductions and the web history). So, as I was chatting with Rob the other day about my connections in the online world, I of course wanted to make a visual representation of those connections to understand them better. That is, I wanted to map my online social connections.

There is a whole discipline around this kind of activity called Social Network Analysis (SNA), which is a set of tools and analysis methodologies designed to show the hidden social connections within networks. Wikipedia has a great article here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_network_analysis, and you can also read a great article on “How to map your social network.” From the BBChttp://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/collegeofjournalism/entries/47838369-75fb-39d3-9e2c-e4ed75c96c0bThere are a lot of great free tools that you can try in under 20 minutes in order to get visual images of your social networks. Here are some of those tools with examples.

Mapping Your Twitter Followers

Let’s start with the simplest tools and output using your Twitter account. These two tools are not really analyzing your social connections, but they do give you an attractive map of where your followers come from.
  • TweepsMap – This tool produces a free map of where your twitter followers are located around the globe. Here is my map, for example. It is kind of cool to see that I have followers in Australia and Norway – I didn’t know!!



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    Before you use TweepsMap, you will either have to let TweepsMap post a Tweet for you to access a free map, or pay $4.99/month to access their full services (including some social analysis tools.)
  • MapMySocial – As with TweepsMap, you must allow MapMySocial to access your Twitter account, including posting Tweets.

    With MapMySocial, you get to see the profile pictures of your twitter followers. Here is my map.



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    Special NOTE: If you choose to enable any service to access your Twitter account, you can always revoke access by going to your Twitter Settings, then select Apps. You will see a list of applications that can access your twitter account., and can click to revoke access.

Mapping Your LinkedIN Network
  • Socilab.com – This site creates a diagram of your LinkedIn network, showing how different users are connected to each other. You can also see outliers with no connections to anyone else in your network. It also lists some measures of your network like the number of clusters you are connected to.

    Here is my graph. Please note that I have removed the names to protect the innocent.


     


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    You can click on each node and it will highlight who that person is connected to. This helps you to see clusters and connections that you didn’t anticipate. It really is a lot of fun to play with. I was really surprised at how many people I have with no connections (out there on the fringes). As I look at the individuals, I can see that some of my outliers COULD be connected to other people in my network, i.e. I know that these two people work for the same organization, but for some reason they are not connected.

Mapping Your E-mail Network

  • Immersion from MIT Media Labs – Immersion uses the metadata from your emails (To, From, CC and time) to map the connections within your email. You can map your Gmail, MSExchange or Yahoo mail. There is also a Demo account if you don’t want to put in your own credentials.

    You can move through time to see how the connectors in your email have changed over time. Immersion focuses on your inbox, so if you are very tidy, you may not see too many connections.

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    Here is my connected work email. I did remove names since I have some student emails. But you can see the clustered people (the green group is one specific project I am working on, so there is a lot of cc’ing on these emails). The big blue dot is my boss.

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