Monday, November 14, 2011

Reaction: Balancing Systematic and Flexible Exploration of Social Networks.

This is definitely a very interesting read, a shift from the graphs and charts papers and what I found to be more interesting about the paper is its similarity to social networks. I feel that same problems that we see in network based visualizations, we can find them in social relations too and prediction of the nodes location in networks can be attributed finding friends.

I believe the authors properly justified their work by presenting the SocialAction tool because it plays a key role in remove bottlenecks which hides the network elements from being visualized properly. Also, another interesting feature of the tool that I have found is the coloring factor which comes into play when visualizing a network graph. Higher ranked network nodes have a color that distinguishes it from the lower rank ones along with a third dimension that is also included which is the "betweenness" rankings of nodes. Let us try to analyze how this can be applied to a social network like Facebook. The betweenness factor can give us suggestions of friends by considering the mutual friend as the node in between. I am sure that such algorithms are indeed used for advertising products on the internet too.

The dynamic feature of SocialAction which allows users to define custom actions only makes it more interesting as users can also visualize comparisons between different factors. I am also impressed with the way how SocialAction deals with over sizing of ordered lists by using the concept of grouping (again a strong relation to groups and friends circles like in google+). The graphs generated by SocialAction also allows users to isolate patterns which maybe used for future predictions. The authors make a note in the end talking about the scalability of SocialAction and how several other factors may come into consideration when dealing with large networks, which I feel is a good point to think about.

Overall, the paper is a good read and the authors have done an excellent job in presenting SocialAction - described its varied applications, and provided diagrams for easy understanding of the purpose of the tool.