Visualizing My Facebook Networks

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Using freely available tools, I've analyzed my Facebook friends to explore the networks that exist among them. The same idea could be used for identifying potential sources online.

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  • That is interesting. We at Nexalogy do the same type of cluster mapping but we explore the connections by way of the conversations that the publishers are having online We call it a lexical map. Please feel free to check out our free tool called Nexame http://nexame.com/connect.php#.UghtidK2ODk where you can analyse the conversations of your twittersphere.
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  • This is really interesting. I'm inspired to do the same now. i'm interested in looking at the diversity of my network(s). Am I genuinely more connected to different ways of thinking or am I more connected to more people who share my views and opinions? The 'imaginary cosmopolitanism' syndrome. Thank you for a very interesting set of tools!
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  • Good job. I did a similar analysis of my own network which I shared in this pdf. http://www.tutormentorexchange.net/images/PDF/sna_facebook2012.pdf

    We need to teach people to use this to measure growth of networks of people focused at common goals.
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Visualizing My Facebook Networks

  1. 1. visualizing my facebook network networks andy carvin npr @acarvin facebook.com/andycarvin slideshare.net/acarvin
  2. 2. Lately I’ve been interested in learning how to analyze social networks to find new sources and the connections that exist between them. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about social networking analysis. So I decided to start teaching myself some basics. Why do this? Because you may not realize you have a goldmine of new sources among the sources you already know about.
  3. 3. For example, read Kieran Healy’s Using Metadata to Find Paul Revere. By cross-referencing data of colonial Bostonians and their memberships to clubs, he showed how the British could have found Paul Revere without knowing he even existed. Granted, they were looking for traitors, but you could apply the same idea to finding sources.
  4. 4. I thought I’d start by experimenting with my own Facebook account, which currently has just under 1,800 friends. I’m sure a lot of these folks know each other, but do they fall into distinct groups? Do any of them serve as “bridge builders” between them?
  5. 5. To do this, I used two tools: Netvizz and Gephi. Netvizz is a Facebook app that looks at all of your FB friends and checks to see if any of them are friends with each other. It then saves the results in a file that can be imported into the open-source network analysis tool which is known as Gephi. You can find it at Gephi.org.
  6. 6. After a bit of tinkering, I came up with this map.
  7. 7. Kinda pretty, Isn’t it?
  8. 8. Here it is with all of my friend’s names. 1,785 people with more than 37,000 connections between each other. And it turns out, they form very distinct networks of their own. Here’s a breakdown of the main ones.
  9. 9. High school friends
  10. 10. High school friends Family
  11. 11. High school friends Family Global Voices
  12. 12. High school friends Family Global Voices Internet policy
  13. 13. High school friends Family Global Voices Internet policy DC Mediamakers
  14. 14. High school friends Family Global Voices Internet policy DC Mediamakers Video bloggers
  15. 15. High school friends Family Global Voices Internet policy DC Mediamakers Video bloggers Educators
  16. 16. High school friends Family Global Voices Internet policy DC Mediamakers Video bloggers Educators Bridge Builders
  17. 17. High school friends Family Global Voices Internet policy DC Mediamakers Video bloggers Educators Bridge Builders PBS
  18. 18. High school friends Family Global Voices Internet policy DC Mediamakers Video bloggers Educators Bridge Builders PBS N P R
  19. 19. High school friends Family Global Voices Internet policy DC Mediamakers Video bloggers Educators Bridge Builders PBS N P R NPR’s Foreign Desk
  20. 20. High school friends Family Global Voices Internet policy DC Mediamakers Video bloggers Educators Bridge Builders PBS N P R NPR’s Foreign Desk Arab Spring Activists
  21. 21. Let’s take a closer look.
  22. 22. At the top of the map, a cluster of my high school friends. Given they’re generally disconnected from my professional life, they appear as their own distinct community. Follow the threads on the right side of the cluster…
  23. 23. …and those threads lead to another cluster representing my family. Since most of my relatives also aren’t connected with my professional networks, either, they appear as an isolated cluster. The big exception to this is my brother Eric, who is social media editor at the Associated Press. By the nature of his work, he happens to connect to my Facebook friends that are journalists and Internet professionals.
  24. 24. Below my brother is a large number of bloggers, many of whom are active in Global Voices Online, an international blogging network founded by Ethan Zuckerman and Rebecca MacKinnon. They founded the group at Harvard’s Berkman Center, and a number of those people end up connecting to people I know working on a range of Internet policy issues.
  25. 25. As we shift to the right, some of those people involved in Internet policy become tied specifically to Washington DC. People such as Shireen Mitchell, Shana Glickfield and Jill Foster were all involved in DC Media Makers, a group of Internet enthusiasts I helped launch in 2006. To the right, the interconnections start shifting to pink…
  26. 26. …and this group represents some of the first video bloggers on the Internet, including Steve Garfield, CC Chapman, Chuck Olson, Amanda Congdon and Kenyatta Cheese. Steve formed the original Media Makers group in Boston in 2004.
  27. 27. A close-up of the video bloggers. Andrew Baron co-founded the early video blog Rocketboom – which also featured Steve Garfield and others on the previous page - while Dina Kaplan, Mike Hudack and Charles Hope launched Blip.TV. Bre Pettis, also an early contributor to Rocketboom, went on to co-found MakerBot.
  28. 28. Below and to the left of the video bloggers are various people who have been Internet leaders for many years, including JD Lasica, Howard Rheingold and Steve Case. I refer to them as “bridge builders,” because their networks overlap multiple networks on my map. They also include Internet pioneers Craig Newmark of Craig’s List and Susan Mernit of Oakland Local. Also note Bonnie Bracey Sutton and Kevin Dando near the bottom….
  29. 29. Bonnie was among the first educators I connected with online in the mid-90s when my work focused on education technology. This cluster represents many people involved in that work, including Kathy Schrock, David Warlick, Steve Hargadon and Sylvia Martinez.
  30. 30. These folks also have numerous connections with Kevin Dando. He’s worked at PBS for many years, and helped connect me to many people in the broader PBS family, including Kristin Calhoun, Amanda Hirsch and Tim Olson. Not surprisingly, these folks also connect strongly with public radio….
  31. 31. …which brings us to the densest section of the map, representing NPR. Even here you can see certain clusters. Doug Mitchell ran our internship program for many years and is well connected across all of public media; the people in orange near the bottom center represent much of NPR’s product development team over the years.
  32. 32. Continuing clockwise up the map are more NPR people, especially those connected with our newsroom. Some on-air personalities such as Scott Simon, Audie Cornish, Adam Davidson and Andrea Seabrook are well connected across the map. David Folkenflik, our media reporter, has strong ties with other journalists I know outside of NPR.
  33. 33. As we reach the upper edge of the NPR newsroom we see staff from our foreign desk – especially those involved in our Mideast coverage. Deb Amos appears as the most connected among my Facebook friends at the desk, but reporters Kelly McEvers, Lulu Garcia Navarro and Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson all stand out. Follow their threads upwards….
  34. 34. …and their connections lead up to Leila Fadel, our correspondent in Cairo. She’s the newest member of NPR’s Mideast team, but she’s spent many years reporting from across the region. Which is why she serves as a major bridge to our last cluster…
  35. 35. My Facebook friends who have been involved in the Arab Spring. Some, like Sultan al Qassemi, Ahmed al Omran and Jenan Moussa, are journalists. They have many connections among activists in the Arab World. So does Jillian York, who was previously editor of Global Voices.
  36. 36. Those are just some of the highlights I was able to find in less than an hour. Digging deeper into the data, no doubt I’ll find even more connections I didn’t even realize existed, or people who are better connected than I thought.
  37. 37. Along with applying this to other individuals and groups on Facebook, I hope to do the same on Twitter: people I follow, Twitter lists, collections of people who @ reply and RT each other in a given place or on a specific topic. The possibilities are endless.

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