The Tweets of Krampus Tag 2012

When I say “Krampus,” what do you say?

The following is the linguistic network of words that co-occur in Twitter posts using the word “Krampus” on Krampustag, December 5 2012. A tie indicates that two words were placed next to one another in a tweet, and the thickness of the tie is an indication of the number of tweets in which the words co-occurred. Common words in both English and German — the, and, or, der, und, oder — were excluded from the network.

Linguistic Adjacency Network: Words Appearing with "Krampus" in Twitter posts on Krampustag, December 5 2012

Krampus is a Central European folk figure, associated with Christmas but also independent of it in a long trickster tradition associated with the solstice.

Charlie Brown famously complained about the commercialization of Christmas in 1965, but the commercialization of Krampus is evident here as well. Krampus appears in his own grassroots people’s parade in Philadelphia, but serves as the title of a Suburgatory episode on ABC TV, and is also the name of a new kind of Nike shoe. As the Krampus meme spreads and the identity of Krampus is altered to serve new ends, will traditionalists bemoan the erosion of the old, “true” meaning of Krampus?

This linguistic network was generated using the free and open-source NodeXL plugin for Excel spreadsheets.

With Fake Like Deletions, how to Audit Facebook Pages on the Cheap

As Facebook deletes thousands and thousands of paid-for fake likes from its network this week, you have a chance perhaps unique opportunity to audit the Facebook pages you most admire (and despise) without paying a red cent to a metrics consultant. Here’s how:

1. Enter “[name of the page you’re interested in] Facebook” into Google’s search engine.

Follow the double arrows >> to find a Google Cache document2. Move your cursor to the right of the search result you’re interested in, then click on the small double arrows (>>) that appear.

3. You should see a snapshot of the Facebook page you’re interested in — but “cached.” A “cache” is Google’s recording of a web page from anywhere between a few days to a few weeks before today. The Google cache for a Facebook page is interesting because it records how many likes the Facebook page had before Facebook started deleting fake likes.

4. Click on the hyperlink word “Cached” in this snapshot to access this pre-recorded page. At the top of the cached page, Google will tell you exactly when the snapshot was taken.

Now, association does not equal causation, as social scientists are fond of saying, and there are many hypothetical reasons why a Facebook page might shed a few “likes” from week to week. It’s normal for a few people to “unlike” a page from time to time, so Facebook pages with a small number of likes might show a big proportional loss that doesn’t mean anything. A celebrity who says or does something offensive might also lose a lot of likes.

That said, a Facebook page with a large number of likes that just fell far in its “like” tally might have some explaining to do.

Two examples show different results:

A Google Cache on September 19 and live Facebook Page on September 27 for the advocacy American Civil Liberties Union, showing a modest increase over the period:

ACLU Facebook page Google Cache and Live Facebook page count, 9-19 and 9-27 2012

A Google Cache on September 18 and live Facebook Page on September 27 for celebrity publicist Bruno Schiavi, showing a 6.4% drop of nearly 30,000 Facebook likes:

Bruno Schiavi Facebook trend from September 18 to 27, 2012

The Center and Periphery of the #MEPolitics network on Twitter, August 24-28 2012

When people use the microblogging service Twitter, they can connect the subject of their post to a stream of postings by other Twitter users on the same subject by using a “hashtag.” A hashtag is a word, number or any string of text preceded by the pound sign, #. Twitter automatically converts hashtags into hyperlinks, and clicking on a hashtag link leads one to a page filled with the most recent posts that also use that hashtag.

In the state of Maine, one hashtag used by journalists and citizen commentators is #MEpolitics, short for “Maine Politics.” What can be said about the people who’ve been using that hashtag lately? Are #MEpolitics users separate from one another or connected in a giant game of Telephone? Who’s most listened to? Who’s ignored?

To answer those questions, I’ve used the free and open-source NodeXL template extension of Microsoft Excel, with which it’s possible to load all recent Twitter posts (“tweets“) using a hashtag into a spreadsheet for analysis. NodeXL considers all “replies” and “mentions” of one account by another account, or “retweets” of one account’s post by another account, to be indicative of a social tie (or “edge,” in NodeXL’s network parlance) connecting two accounts. Being the recipient of a retweet, reply or mention is an indication of popularity, and the number of those retweets, replies or mentions received by an account is called “in-degree“.

Through a useful bit of coding, NodeXL takes an edge list of all the ties between Twitter accounts using a hashtag like #MEpolitics and converts it into a graphic image of a network (referred to as a “sociogram“).

Graph: The Twitter Network for #MEpolitics, 8/24/2012 to 8/28/2012

In this sociogram, drawn from the 1,108 tweets using the #MEPolitics hashtag from August 24 to 28, 2012, there are 239 unique Twitter accounts. Each of these accounts is represented as a dot if an account’s in-degree is only 0 or 1 during the 8/24-8/28 period. If an account has an indegree of 2 or more, then it is represented with the account’s graphic icon. Of all 239 #MEPolitics tweeters over the past 5 days, 28 accounts merit the big graphic. These are the big shots of the network to whom others respond most often. Listed by username, they are:


Twitter Account In-Degree
bangordailynews 33
noway90 22
cdixon25 17
md_wallace 16
andiparkinson2 11
thisdog 8
dillesquire 8
realmaineperson 7
rebekahmetzler 6
chelliepingree 5
cascokid 4
ooooo_aahhh 4
justinrussell 4
mainegop 4
jonhinck 4
cejesq 3
angrymom80 3
tyler_leclair11 3
amuhs 2
megov 2
bigguywj 2
kateflag 2
stevemistler 2
chrishallweaver 2
soulride55 2
luchadora41 2
aaronprill 2

If you live in Maine and pay attention to the Maine political scene, you should be able to to use the combination of graphic icon and username to tell who a number of these more popular tweeters are and with whom they’re conversing. What patterns do you see in this network?

There’s much more a body can tell from a simple list of tweets than I’ve touched on today. One could find central communicators in the #MEPolitics network, uncover groups who speak most often to one another, cliques who shut others out, bridges between otherwise disconnected regions of the network, and isolates who speak to and are heard by no one. One could look at the content of the tweets too. What sort of statements about are being uttered about Maine politics? Which tweets or phrases diffuse through the network, and which drop dead?

These sorts of observations will be the subject of future posts on the subject of analyzing tweets, but for now I’d like you to notice what draws these various kinds of measurements together. None of these measures rely on understanding the character of the individual account. All of them draw upon patterns of social relations. That is why the study of social media is sociological. That, in turn, is why a solid sociological footing is essential for those who are interested in entering the burgeoning social media profession.

UMA Social Networks Course Begins in 9 Days

COM/SOC 375, the new Social Networks course at the University of Maine at Augusta, will start officially in 9 days on September 4 2012. In this semester, the course will be taught online, and in recognition of the multiple ways that networks can be visualized, the Social Networks course itself will be visualized in three ways:

1. As a traditional Blackboard course, available solely to students at the University of Maine at Augusta who can log in via the UMA portal at

2. As a WordPress blog with announcements as posts, weekly letures as pages, and a (beta) glossary.

3. As a Prezi presentation. Course lecture and homework materials will appear in the form of a sociogram with new materials added weekly for students to read, view and complete. The Prezi is a work in progress, but will be visible here.

Welcome to the UMA Course Website for Social Networks and Analyzing Social Media

Sociology is the scientific study of society and social interaction. Beginning with the fundamental insight that regular patterns in interaction are the ties that bind societies together, social network analysts examine the impact of these patterns on a number of aspects of social life. Social media analysts measure, chart and predict the development of a particular kind of social network, occurring in reciprocal formats online.

These are the subjects of two courses at the University of Maine at Augusta:

  • Communications/Sociology 375: Social Networks
  • Communications/Sociology 475: Analyzing Social Media

On this website, various supporting materials for the two courses can be found, including:

  • Syllabi
  • Discussion Forums
  • Homework Help
  • Tutorials
  • Video Lectures
  • Galleries of Student Analyses

The two courses, and the Social Media Certificate program of which they are a part, are being introduced to UMA in the fall semester of 2012. As the fall semester approaches, you can expect to find more materials having to do with social networks and social media. If you have any questions about enrolling for these courses, or are simply curious about the ideas behind these curiously chartable phenomena, please leave a comment here or in this website’s Guestbook.