Challenges of tracking topical discussion networks online
Highfield, Tim, Kirchhoff, Lars, & Nicolai, Thomas (2011) Challenges of tracking topical discussion networks online. Social Science Computer Review.
Attempts to map online networks, representing relationships between people and sites, have covered sites including Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. However, the predominant approach of static network visualization, treating months of data as a single case rather than depicting changes over time or between topics, remains a flawed process. As different events and themes provoke varying interactions and conversations, it is proposed that case-by-case analysis would aid studies of online social networks by further examining the dynamics of links and information flows. This study uses hyperlink analysis of a population of French political blogs to compare connections between sites from January to August 2009. Themes discussed in this period were identified for subsequent analysis of topic-oriented networks. By comparing static blogrolls with topical citations within posts, this research addresses challenges and methods in mapping online networks, providing new information on temporal aspects of linking behaviors and information flows within these systems.
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