Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Reaction: Balancing Systematic and Flexible Exploration of Social Networks

The paper mentions that network visualization can be difficult to visualize, explore, and understand because networks can be large, links can overlap, labels can be illegible. Moreover, different analyst can interpret networks in different ways. The paper provides an overview of the tool called SocialAction.

SocialAction provides attribute ranking and coordinated views that allow to explore networks in a systematic and flexible way. The attribute ranking combines overview, ordered lists, color coding, dynamic queries to provide a systematic way to explore the network. The tool also provides a way to aggregate nodes that is useful when the network becomes large. It also provides a way to filter nodes based on some criteria in order to dismiss portions of the network to avoid distractions, and improve legibility. Additionally, the tool can create scatterplots, and changes the colors of the network according to the axis comparison.

The tool also presents a way to aggregate nodes by creating subgroups. The creation of the subgroups can be done automatically based on link structure. The tool also allows to analyze a subgroup in an isolated way.

SocialAction allows an stable way to explore networks by allowing the user to explore different types of links while maintaining the structure stable.

In my opinion, the papers provides a good overview of the difficulties on analyzing social networks. They describe their tool by providing the advantages it has, and giving a, example on terrorism attacks perform in each country. However, it would be interesting to see more examples on how the tool is being used, and findings done using the tool.