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Dissertation Defense (April 1, 2009)
As a way to gain greater insights into the operation of online communities, this dissertation applies automated text mining techniques to text-based communication to identify, describe and evaluate underlying social networks among online community members. The main thrust of the study is to find a way to use computers to discover social ties that form between community members just from the digital footprints left behind in their online forum postings automatically. As part of this work, a web-based system for content and network analysis called the Internet Community Text Analyzer (ICTA) is being developed. A prototype of ICTA is available at http://textanalytics.net.