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What is Social Network Analysis?


What is Social Network Analysis? You’ve heard of social networks before from the online versions like Facebook and Twitter to the more traditional social networks of people in a fraternity or in a small town. You’ve probably also heard about some of the interesting things you can learn about these networks when you analyze them, from silly things like hearing how many degrees of Kevin Bacon one actor is from another odd but slightly creepy like how Facebook algorithms try to predict products you wanna buy or who to add as a friend. When you start to think about the world in terms of different overlaying networks that connect and transfer friendships, information, money and power, you start to see how analyzing things through the analysis of social networks can lead to new realization about culture, politics, history and lots of other interesting topics. We have intuitive sense that the connections of the people around us are huge factor and what we know how we think of what we do. But researchers using standard statistical methods don’t have a really good way to account pretty effective this connections without social network analysis and similarities and differences between isolated data points but social networking data analysis gives us tools to quantify those connections between individual points often in the visual format so that we can find patterns in the forces that connect us together as a society. We can find out how one person connected or disconnected from people, groups and trends in a population and all those people seemed to be friends with everyone. Well, social network analysis can generate graphical representations that reveal individuals in populations that bridge social groups. Ever had a friend that stopped hanging out with you once they got a new boyfriend or girlfriend? With social network analysis, you can study how individuals divide their energies between different social groups over time. We can study what makes a group strangers, start to form statement groups what networks are firm, we can see how things like power, beliefs or even an outbreak of disease flows through the individual connections. As you can tell, there are practical questions that can quantitative answers and new insights with social network analysis that just weren’t possible before. This opens up an exciting range of new options. One example is in colonial American history. What do you think the social network of political leaders in Boston looked like at the time of the revolutionary war? Duke Professor Kieran Healy looked into this and found several distinct social groups but one name that bridged them together, Paul Revere. On the topic of education how are friendships in the school affected by race and age? In the data shown here, when we see friendships colored through great level it looks like there’s pretty good diversity between students of different class years. But when we look through the same friendships colored through race, the friendships start to look much less diverse. If we happen to combine this information with data from other schools we can see which patterns keep repeating even in different environments. And what makes unique patterns arise. Social network analysis is a very open field and there are lots of technical options to try out. Like adding geographic mapping data to understand how physical environments change network dynamics. And for math geeks, it’s still a very new field with lots of room for creating new analytical algorithms so we can create new forms
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of mapping network connections. See the power of social network analysis in your own life right now by looking at the tools link below to your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn networks. You probably won’t expect everything that you see which is one of the reasons that social network analysis is so exciting. If you’re a faculty member, researcher, or graduate student interested in learning more, or applying this to your own research, look for listings in the social networks’ workshop, run by the Duke network analysis center. It’s a useful pathway to see how this approach can stimulate new ideas for you. If you’re an undergraduate interested in social network analysis, look for classes that use the terms, social networks, network theory or graph theory in their descriptions. And search for opportunities to join research teams through programs like [UNKNOWN] connections. Networks are everywhere, what will you discover with them? [BLANK_AUDIO]

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