Lecture 14, the last lecture for Communications/Sociology 375: Social Networks, is short and to the point. The lectures, readings, and videos to date should have provided with you with all the knowledge you’ve needed to complete your coursework. The skills needed to complete your coursework have been developed by you, through a series of homework assignments. If you’ve proceeded through the semester with care and attention, you should be ready for your final project: the creation of a social network research paper that examines the association of a number of independent variables with a dependent variable, some shared action in politics.
For those of you who might be feeling a bit of trepidation at the prospect of carrying out a correlation analysis, for those of you who are thinking that the words “correlation” and “analysis” sound scary put together, I want to offer reassurance and help in this lecture. You’ve been engaging in “analysis” all through the semester, and a “correlation” just expresses a different kind of information about a social network. You can do this! Start out by reviewing last week’s lecture, in which I talk about what correlation is and why it matters. Then check out the supplementary videos in this lecture, the first of which describes correlations visually and the second of which performs a “walkthrough” exercise demonstrating the use of UCINET to perform a QAP correlation.
The subjects we consider this week are:
The thirteenth social networks course lecture (on the subject of QAP correlation and preparing for your second major assignment) is now ready for your review… at http://www.umasocialmedia.com/socialnetworks/networks-lecture-13-qap-correlation/ on the web.
Some of you have shared with me a certain joy in collecting network data and generating colorful and (with NodeXL) professional-quality sociograms that exhibit network structure in detail; more than one of you has told me that you’d never seen the world described in this way before. Others of you have become interested in the nuances distinguishing different measures of network structure. Yet others of you have expressed frustration with the occasional difficulty of network analysis, but also an awareness that your abilities are being stretched. I hope by now you’ve felt a bit of at least one of these feelings. But it’s time for us to move further, into the territory of using social networks to explain meaningful behaviors in society.
Social network analysts aren’t only interested in fiddling around with software packages or constructing social networks to describing one kind of relationship at a time. We are deeply interested in explaining why important events — disease, war, famine, innovation, political change — unfold and spread the way they do. Over the next two weeks we will learn how to think about, implement and interpret a research method called “QAP Correlation” that allows us to explain how patterns of connection in social networks are associated with outcomes we care about. If you care about any outcome in the world, this is why social network research matters — because the more we understand, the more we can do.
Dear Social Networks students,
The twelfth course lecture for COM/SOC 375 (Social Networks) is now available at http://wp.me/P2FCiK-gM
. In this lecture, titled “Going Shopping,” we pause in our rush to master the mechanics of social network analysis and ask instead what all this analysis might be for. An entirely new social media management and analysis industry has exploded into being over the past five years, using the insights of social network analysis in order to help corporations, small business owners and non-profit ventures obtain their goals. From the consumer’s point of view, online social networks have quickly become an important resource as we go shopping. Should we embrace the merging of our personal and profit networks or consider the trend to be a threat?
Dear Social Networks students,
Lecture 11, on tracking social media online as social networks, is now available here:
This lecture features text, but centers around two videos, one of which is a walkthrough for getting started with your major assignment due at the end of next week. Please be sure to review those videos to gain complete context for what should be a challenging but rewarding piece of work!
Lecture 10 in the UMA Social Networks course is now available. This lecture discusses course grades, reconsiders the Bacon game in terms of what Noah Friedkin terms “horizons of observability,” offers a walkthrough of NodeXL installation and your next homework assignment, and bends Kozo Sugiyama’s rules for visualizing social networks a bit.
Review Lecture 10 now.
The ninth course lecture for undergraduate social networks at the University of Maine at Augusta is now available.
In this week’s lecture, we consider social networks in politics. Politics is a collective act in which people deliberate and answer the question, “What is to be done?” The answer to that question is some form of policy. In order to influence the answer to the question “What is to be done?” movers and shakers attempt to shape the answer to a prior question, “Who is to decide what is to be done?” through various appointments and elections. As the 2012 round of national elections fade into memory and the 113th Congress moves forward with its legislative agenda, public discussion of these questions may recede but in hearing rooms and and conference rooms and courtrooms across the country these questions continue to be asked constantly, with lives and livelihoods often hanging in the balance.
This month, we’re leaving our introductory textbook behind and starting to gain knowledge about studying real networks in the real world. That means you’ll be reading research articles and doing more independent work. It’s not an easy step to take, but it is important. We spend some extra time this week talking about how to read a research article and understand the social network research within.
The eighth lecture for the undergraduate social networks course at the University of Maine at Augusta is now available at the following web page: http://www.umasocialmedia.com/socialnetworks/lecture-8-patterns-in-social-networks/
This week’s lecture organized around the idea that social networks don’t just happen randomly. There are patterns in social networks which have a strong impact on human existence even if individual humans have little choice in the matter. Unless we are very unusual, our friends will have more friends than we do. Although a catastrophic event may seem to strike a small number of people, the nature of networks sends out a ripple effect that quickly touches us all. And the old saying is true: birds of a feather flock together, but the meaning of that depends on the size of the flock you fly with.
Also please note that this week you have two homework assignments due on two different days, and it’s important to remember that the first assignment is due earlier than usual: Wednesday, March 13! Don’t worry too much about workload: this week’s pieces of homework don’t take too much time, but they are an important way to start to build a practical understanding of the connection between similarity, situation and distance in social networks.
In the seventh week of UMA‘s undergraduate social networks course, you’ll be taking an exam to test your command of basic social network principles and measures. To help you in your studies, last week’s lecture featured an exam review problem set with answers against which you could check yourself. This week’s brief lecture features no information that we haven’t already covered, but we do consider that same information in a new way.
I hope that this new presentation gives you some final useful help as you get ready for your exam. Best of luck this week!
To access Lecture 7 and go through a bit more exam review, click this link: http://www.umasocialmedia.com/socialnetworks/networks-lecture-7-exam-review/.
Click here for Lecture 6 in the undergraduate social networks course at the University of Maine at Augusta. In this course, we consider the importance of groups and affiliations in social network analysis, an importance recognized for a century but formalized when Ronald Breiger developed a method for tracking the dual impact of persons and groups:
- shared group memberships lead to the formation of interpersonal ties, and
- the people who are members of two groups also create ties between groups.
We also devote time in Lecture 6 to the distinctions people make within groups, from components to cliques to cores.
Lecture 6 is available now.
Lecture 5 in the undergraduate social networks course of the University of Maine at Augusta is now available for your review. See it here.
This week’s subject matter is all about ME (or, from your point of view, YOU). Ego networks are literally egocentric creations, starting from a single person who looks at the networked world from her or his unique vantage point. In lecture and reading, we’ll begin by considering ego alone, then coax the egoist into charting ties she or he may not see. Although ego networks are not complete networks, they are perhaps more accurate representations of the way the social world looks to us; as we go about living our lives, our range of vision is limited, not global.
This is also a week to continue moving beyond pencil and paper to representing social networks using computer programs. This week, you’ll use UCINET to create sociograms of ego networks at three levels. I have no how-to video this week — if you think carefully, you should be able to use the skills you already have to create the three necessary sociograms.