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Between Friends

An interesting look at various networks, particularly revealing of the strong presence of a small minority in acquiring the majority of links – Between Friends: “The idea of a social graph–a representation of a person’s network of friends, family, and acquaintances–gained currency last year as the popularity of online social networks grew…The push to understand the nature and potential value of links between people online has led to imaginative ways to represent such networks.”

The article focuses on social networks and ways they can be visualized. Obviously, those are two separate issues. How and why social networks form online has not been extensively researched (social networking sites (SNS) is still only about four years into its popularity cycle). Sociologists such as Watts, Castells, and Wellman have extensively researched social networks, but the online component has not been fully considered in light of SNS tools. The other aspect – visualization – is of far greater value than just exploring how people are connected through links. The visualization of data has the potential to significantly improve how capacity to handle information abundance, gain new insight and meaning, etc. Plus, I have yet to see a significant focus on how network analysis can be utilized in education (Gruzd and Haythornthwaite offer a consideration (.pdf) of interaction patterns in online communities)