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Announcement: Tools for Analyzing Online Social Networks

History Flow

History Flow is a tool created by Fernanda Viegas and Martin Wattenburg as part of the IBM Collaborative User Experience Research Group. Viegas’ and Wattenburg’s creation visualizes “dynamic, evolving documents and the interactions of multiple collaborating authors. In its current implementation, history flow is being used to visualize the evolutionary history of wiki* pages on Wikipedia” (history flow home page). The tool works by color coding edits according to the user who makes the changes. The result is a richly detailed visual overview of the life of a page. History Flow’s outputs allow visual analysis of issues critical to the credibility of Wikipedia, such as collaboration, vandalism, edit wars, etc.

Starter Links: History Flow home page | IBM Collaborative User Experience home page | Wikipedia

We Feel Fine

Online exhibit and resource that mines web-logs for emotional phrases and adds them to a navigable database.

“Since August 2005, We Feel Fine has been harvesting human feelings from a large number of weblogs. Every few minutes, the system searches the world’s newly posted blog entries for occurrences of the phrases “I feel” and “I am feeling”. When it finds such a phrase, it records the full sentence, up to the period, and identifies the “feeling” expressed in that sentence (e.g. sad, happy, depressed, etc.). Because blogs are structured in largely standard ways, the age, gender, and geographical location of the author can often be extracted and saved along with the sentence, as can the local weather conditions at the time the sentence was written. All of this information is saved.

The result is a database of several million human feelings, increasing by 15,000 – 20,000 new feelings per day.” (From the web site.)

Starter Links: wefeelfine.org

PieSpy Social Network Bot: Inferring and Visualizing Social Networks on IRC

Software from Jibble.org to visualize the social network created in an IRC channel:

“PieSpy is an IRC bot that monitors a set of IRC channels. It uses a simple set of heuristics to infer relationships between pairs of users. These inferrences allow PieSpy to build a mathematical model of a social network for any channel. These social networks can be drawn and used to create animations of evolving social networks. PieSpy has also been used to visualize Shakespearean social networks.” (from Jibble.org’s PieSpy site)

Starter links: Jibble.org PieSpy page | Visualization of the social network implied in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, treated as a communicational network

pStruct: The Social Life of Data

Self-organizing graphing program for visualizing large bodies of data, including Web forum posts; being developed at UCSB’s Four Eyes Lab:

“pStruct enables content to organize itself dynamically, based on similarities to other pieces of data, as well as users’ interaction with the forum. The result is an unstructured graph that responds in life-like ways to the interaction of data and users…. pStruct is built on a multithreaded Java architecture designed to maintain system responsiveness when faced with hundreds of users and millions of pieces of content. Every post to the forum is stored in a database for archival purposes. A subset of the posts are kept in memory as ‘live’ content which users are presented with and can interact with. When a post is no longer live, it is saved to the database for later retrieval. Each live entity runs as a separate thread, maintaining connections to other entities (posts, users, etc.), responding to requests and seeking out new relationships. While pStruct is currently built to act as a web forum backend, the architecture is general enough to allow for management of any data storage and content retrieval system.” (from UCSB Four Eyes Lab site)

Starter Links: UCSB Four Eyes Lab description of pStruct