Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Reaction: Balancing Systematic and Flexible Exploration of Social Networks

This paper is a must read for the network analysts attempting to build an efficient network visualization tool. The paper has been structured systematically beginning with the related work in the past in the field of network visualization and then leads to the introduction of the tool Social Action. According to the paper, the visualization of connectivity, the global structure of networks, ease of navigation and number of displayed nodes are some of the key factors of an effective network visualization. However, the tools in the past used to compromise on one of the factors in order to accommodate some other factor. There is no systematic way to inter[rest networks. The tool Social Action, on the other hand, has been built in a way to accommodate all the factors and visualize networks effectively.

The Social Action tool uses the principles of attribute ranking and co-ordinate views in order to bring out the importance of a node. While measuring changes with the tool, the node position remains the same. Hence, the users orientation is not lost. The tool also reduces the problem of illegible layouts (as the network grows) by allowing the users to compress networks.The structure attributes ranking, Ranking with scatter plot, sub-group detection, community detection and labeling are some of the key features of Social Action. The tool has been build on the underlying principles of the "The Visual Information Seeking Mantra". The author has explained the entire tool with the help of a running example of Understanding the terrorist networks and their impact on various countries in the globe. The data is a real data and it is an example which has a global importance.This makes the read quite interesting and very effectively brings out the importance and efficiency of the Social Action tool. The paper was a very good read and and it is a very good attempt to enhance the effectiveness of network visualization.

The following is the site which explains the SocialAction tool(The site also has interesting videos illustrating the Voting Patterns Among United States Senators ):