Workshop 4: Networks

1 minute read

Complete by: Thu. 29 Apr.

Begin by reading this post on Scott Weingart’s blog that introduces the concept of networks: Then look through this glossary of basic network terminology.

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the basics, you’ll use the Network Navigator site to explore some datasets. (Because Network Navigator isn’t out of beta testing yet, the link is posted privately on the Canvas discussion board for this workshop.) Follow these steps:

1) Choose two of the sample network datasets from Melanie Walsh’s Github repository. Select one dataset that describes a real world social network, like the dataset of Quakers or one from the Modernist Journals Project, and select a second that describes a fictional social network, like Marvel or Game of Thrones datasets.

2) Download the appropriate edgelist for each chosen network and drag-and-drop it into Network Navigator, or copy-paste the data right into Network Navigator’s input box. (Every dataset contains multiple files, but for this exercise you should only need the file that ends in -edges.csv.)

3) Explore Network Navigator’s results for each network. In your explorations, pay special attention to the following:

  • Which node/person in the network has the highest degree? And which has the highest betweenness centrality? What does this tell you about their “importance” to the network?

  • Look at all three types of visualization: force layout, arc diagram, and adjacency matrix. What do each of these visualization types allow you to see about the networks?

  • How does your “real world” network compare to the one drawn from fiction? What are the similarities and differences between the two networks, both in the way they look in their visualizations as well as in their mathematical differences?

4) Write a reflection for the discussion board on your exploration of the two networks you chose (and remember to tell us which datasets you chose!). You don’t need to answer all of the above questions fully, but you can use them as guides. In general, what did this exercise teach you about how social networks see the world? How is this similar or different from other ways of understanding relationships?

Good luck!

n.b. This workshop is adapted from an in-person assignment, and it uses a website that is still experimental. If you run into anything confusing or something that doesn’t seem to work right, just reach out for help! Remember the technical learning ground rules.