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Friday, March 11, 2011

Social Networks and Twitter: The Egyptian Revolution and More

Social network analysts analyze a whole host of data, basically, any data that display connections between actors (which can be individuals but they don't have to be). An example comes from the recent Egyptian revolution. The following social network map graphs, over time, the network of retweets with the hashtag #jan25 on February 11 2011, at the time of the announcement of Mubarak’s resignation.


 

The network movie lasts about 3 1/2 minutes and is interesting. You can find a more detailed description of how the twitter data were collected at the following website ("The Egyptian Revolution on Twitter"). I believe that the node on the right with a lot tweets points at and away from it is a guy from NPR.

Another example comes from the Freakanomics blog/podcast ("Is Twitter a Two-Way Street").  Stephen Dubner interviews Duncan Watts, the former Columbia sociologist (he actually was trained as a computer scientist) who now works at Yahoo! Research.  Watts is the author of the book, Six Degrees, (no, Kevin Bacon isn't the one who came up with the term -- it goes back to the social psychologist, Stanely Milgram), which is a very readable (and entertaining -- he's a good storyteller) book on network science. He's also the author of Everything is Obvious (Once You Know the Answer) and the co-author of a recent paper called “Who Says What to Whom on Twitter.”

Dubner also interviews Justin Halpern, who turned his Twitter feed “Sh*t My Dad Says” into a best-selling book of the same name and a TV show.  Halpern has millions of followers but follows only one other person.

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