Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Reaction: Balancing Systematic and Flexible Exploration of Social Networks

This paper describes “Social Action” – a tool that gives users the ability to grasp and analyze Social Network and at the same time do a SNA(so called social network analysis). The paper was a good read in the sense that it briefly talked about the difficulties in generating various views and blueprints of social network that arise mainly due –
  1. Large number of nodes in the network which fails to adapt the aesthetic algorithms used to plot them.
  2. Even the use of enhanced visualization fails, like for eg. Fisheye can give more focused details but in many cases obscure global view in a certain way which I completely agree to among other drawbacks mentioned in the paper
among other drawbacks that present system face.

The paper also focuses on how, Social Action provides a tool that facilitates the users such that they can explore the network graphs at the same time giving them power of using customization; like, the attribute rankings and coordinated views which  combines principles of information visualization, such as overview, ordered lists, color coding, and dynamic queries, to allow users to systematically examine the breadth of structural measures on a network. Now it’s obvious that as network grows the ordered lists used to store their visual information will grow as well. In that case, Social Action allows users to aggregate nodes based on link structure.

The tool also provides the social analyst with the ability to rank nodes based on linkage between nodes or the graph properties. I also liked the way Social Action detects subgroups and isolate them based on their structural properties. If networks have multiple link types then Social Network allows its users to quickly iterate through between different nodes of different link types while keeping the layout stable.

All in all I would say that Social Network is a system that tries to bond the data and visual component of social network and make life of social analyst easy as it provides the abilities to discover more rather than just present the network with additional features.

Overall a good read and it will help me analyze social graphs with different point of view which lacked prior to reading of this paper.