Scott Feld SONIC Speaker Series

Scott Feld, Purdue University “Social Network Theorizing Using Ideal Types” Friday, November 12, 2010 (audio and slides).
Scott L. Feld suggests that one approach to network theorizing is to identify a useful “ideal type,” carefully specify its defining properties, derive important implications of those properties, and consider how deviations from the defining properties affect the relevant implications. Professor Feld will illustrate this approach by considering the ideal type of a robust network hierarchy, distinguish it from other similar patterns (e.g. a transitive hierarchy or simple core-periphery), provide an empirical illustration, and consider some causes and consequence of this type of network pattern.

Scott L. Feld is Professor of Sociology (and Political Science) at Purdue University, and a Visiting Scholar at NICO. This presentation is part of his current effort to explicate the theoretical strategy in his earlier works on the focused organization of social ties, on friends of friends, and on the robust network hierarchies found in academia.


Social Network Theorizing Using Ideal Types


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Benjamin Elbirt SONIC Speaker Series

Benjamin Elbirt, Chief Information Officer of INSNA, “Elbirt Technologies Software Suite – The Next Generation in Network Data Visualization, Sonification and Analysis” Friday, November 5, 2010 presentation (audio, slides, software demo).

The presentation will provide an introduction to ET-V 1.0, the latest software released by Benjamin Elbirt / Elbirt Technologies. ET-V 1.0 is a visualization, animation and sonification application for understanding network data in multidimensional space. It is a successor to the Jacob’s Ladder (Elbirt, 2005 & 2009a & 2009b) software line. The software has been rebuilt to use XLS and XLSX files (Microsoft Excel) and includes many new features that improve the overall display and performance. This application is only limited by available resources (memory/CPU/GPU) for the data volume.

M2C 4.0 is provided for conversion of data to coordinate systems. M2C 4.0 is the latest Matrix to Coordinates conversion program that uses the latest MDSJ (Brandes & Pich, 2007) and a customized Procrustes rotation algorithm for longitudinal analysis. Inputs include pairs or matrix, text delimited or XLS/XLSX files. Outputs are in XLSX files and include various calculations and formats including ET-V. The presentation will begin with a brief description and discussion of the M2C application and how the data is converted from relational pairs, matrixes and other formats into a coordinate system of equivalences. This will be followed by a brief tour of ET-V, the data visualization program. Finally, three data sets will be loaded and displayed using various ET-V functionality. These data sets are 1) Migration Patterns among Canadian Provinces (Barnett & Sung, 2003) (73 time points, animated and intonated); 2) US Senate Bill Co-sponsorship (Fowler, 2006) (Fowler, Co-sponsorship Network Data Page, 2010) (17 time points, animated); and 3) Sunbelt Conference Co-authorship networks (Elbirt, 2010) (10 time points, animated).

Bio: Benjamin Elbirt is a software engineer who has developed internet and desktop applications for more than 12 years. He received his master’s degree from SUNY Buffalo under Dr. George Barnett, Dr. Joseph Woelfel and Dr. Frank Tutzauer in 2008. Benjamin is currently employed as the Chief Information Officer of INSNA – the International Network for Social Network Analysis. Areas of interest include Matrix Mathematics, Semantic Text Analysis, Data Visualization and Intonation, Longitudinal/Time Series data, Data Collection, Cognitive Modeling, Agent Based Modeling and Social Network Analysis. More information on software and publications can be found at his website


Elbirt Technologies Software Suite


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Marc A. Smith SONIC Speaker Series

Marc A. Smith, Connect ActionMarc A. Smith Consulting Group “Collections of Connections in Social Media: Maps and measures with NodeXL” Friday, October 22, 2010.

Networks are a data structure common across all social media that allow populations to author collections of connections. The Social Media Research Foundation’s NodeXL project makes analysis of social media networks accessible to most users of the Excel spreadsheet application. Networks become as easy to create as pie charts. Applying the tool to a range of social media networks has already revealed the variations present in online social spaces. A review of the tool and images of Twitter, flickr, YouTube, and email networks will be presented.

Marc Smith is a sociologist specializing in the social organization of online communities and computer mediated interaction. He founded and managed the Community Technologies Group at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Washington and led the development of social media reporting and analysis tools for Telligent Systems.  Smith leads the Connected Action consulting group and lives and works in Silicon Valley, California. Smith cofounded the Social Media Research Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to open tools, data, and scholarship related to social media research.


Collections of Connections in Social Media


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Thomas Friemel SONIC Speaker Series

Thomas FriemelThomas Friemel, Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research, University of Zurich “Impersonal Knowledge Networks of Public Opinion” Friday, May 14, 2010 presentation (audio and slides).

The concept of impersonal knowledge networks proposes a new approach for the study of political knowledge and public opinion. Factual knowledge questions and the analysis of simple frequency distributions provide only limited insights into the complex structures and dynamics of how people think and decide on political issues. The concept of impersonal knowledge networks proposes to understand public opinion as a network of topic related aspects. Free word associations of individuals are used as the basis to aggregate bigger knowledge networks. This aggregation is possible by transforming the two-mode network of respondents and their answers to a one mode network of topic aspects. Data presented in this talk were collected in representative CATI interviews on three different national referendum campaigns in Switzerland. The panel design allows not only to describe the knowledge structure at a given time point but also to analyze the dynamics of the structure.

Thomas N. Friemel is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research at the University of Zurich (IPMZ) and currently Visiting Scholar at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the organizer of the annual conference on Applications of Social Network Analysis (ASNA) at the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich and applies SNA in various ways in mass communication research.


Impersonal Knowledge Networks of Public Opinion


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Mauro Cherubini SONIC Speaker Series

MauMauro Cherubiniro Cherubini, Telefonica Research, Barcelona, “Exploring Social Networks as an Infrastructure for Transportation Networks” Monday, May 10, 2010.

We propose an exchange platform where people lend each other objects of small value, such as star-shaped screwdrivers, which are transported by the owners or by carriers (friends or acquaintances of the owner in the social network). By running simulations on mobile call detail records, which include location information, from a large metropolitan area, we evaluate the performance of several transportation strategies. Results show that completely unoptimized routing heuristics could deliver an average of 3908 objects, over 10000 injected objects, with an average delivery time of 0.59 days. These preliminary results suggest that, under considerably general assumptions, social networks may indeed be an effective and inexpensive infrastructure for transportation networks. These initial results have important implications for sustainability.

Mauro Cherubini obtained a degree in Psychology and Education in 2001. He then worked at Media Lab Europe, in Ireland, with several study visits at MIT in Boston. In 2004, Mauro earned a Master of Arts by Research at Dublin City University. In 2008, he was conferred a PhD in Computer Science by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, where he conducted research on Human-Computer Interaction. In 2008, Mauro joined Telefonica Research, in Barcelona.

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New Global Network of Web Science Laboratories announced at WebSci10

New Global Network of Web Science Laboratories announced at WebSci10

EMBARGO 00.01 Tuesday 27 April 2010

A new international network announced yesterday (Monday 26 April 2010) creates an alliance of world-class research laboratories to support the Web Science research and education program.

The Web Science Trust Network of Laboratories (WSTNet) combines some of the world’s leading academic researchers in Web Science, with new academic programs that will enhance the already growing influence of Web Science.

WSTNet will be managed by the Web Science Trust, which brings together academics, business leaders, entrepreneurs and policy-makers from around the world with the goal of fostering multidisciplinary research to study the World Wide Web and describe the issues and challenges that will shape its future use and design.

Through a number of specific agreements and commitments with the Web Science Trust, the member Labs will provide valuable support for the ongoing development of Web Science.

‘This is yet another important milestone in the progress of Web Science,’ said Sir John Taylor, Chair of the WST Trustee Board. ‘We are linking together a group of highly respected research laboratories which are all already making internationally-leading contributions through their research. We look forward to what we can achieve together in the future, through a series of joint research programs, events, and collaborations.’

Contributions from the Labs will include the organization and hosting of summer schools, workshops and meetings, including the WebSci conference series. The WSTNet Labs will also identify opportunities for new events and fundraising, all as part of the ongoing development of Web Science.

The announcement of WSTNet was made at the WebSci10 conference taking place in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, from 26 to 27 April, and co-located with the World Wide Web conference. Representatives of all the Labs are attending the conference along with researchers from the many different disciplines which are involved in Web Science.

‘WSTNet will extend our global research capabilities in Web Science as well as ensuring that the subject is built into university syllabuses,’ said Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Managing Director of WST and one of the founders of the discipline of Web Science. We will continue to extend the network to other research institutes which are already committed to Web Science.

‘We are delighted to welcome on board all the Labs and look forward to further exciting developments in the future.’

The full list of Founding WSTNet Labs is:

Annenberg Network of Networks, University of Southern California

Decentralized Information Group (DIG), Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Department of Computer Science, VU Amsterdam

Digital Enterprise Research Institute, NUI Galway

Institute for Web Science and Technologies (WeST), Universitat Koblenz-Landau

Oxford Internet Institute

Science of Networks in Communities (SONIC) Lab, Northwestern University

Tsinghua-Southampton Web Science Laboratory at Shenzhen

Web Science Research Centre, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Web Science Research Group, University of Southampton

Notes for Editors

For further information about Web Science and the Web Science Trust see

For further information about WebSci10 see

The Web Science Trust (WST) is a charitable body with the aim of supporting the global development of Web Science.

For further information contact:

Professor Dame Wendy Hall, School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton (; tel.+44(0)23 8059 3255)

Joyce Lewis, Communications Manager, School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton (

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Filip Agneessens SONIC Speaker Series

Filip AgneessFilip Agneessensens, VU University, Amsterdam “The importance of advice and trust on individual performance in teams: the effect of individual position in a network or group structure?” Friday, April 16th, 2010.

Both the way in which trust and advice relations influence the performance of employees in organizations, and the level at which these networks might have an impact on individual performance have been a major topic of discussion. This paper simultaneously investigates the impact of (1) trust as an independent effect next to advice, (2) trust as an underlying source for the emergence of advice, as well as (3) the importance of multiplex advice-trust ties for performance.  Moreover a multilevel analysis is used to simultaneously study the position of members in a team, and the impact of the structural characteristics of the team as a whole for individual performance. The results at the individual level show that the impact of frequent advice giving on performance is only partially mediated by the level to which the person is considered more trustworthy, while the effect of advice relations embedded in a trust-relation (i.e. advice-trust multiplexity) is not important. However, at the team level results show not only that a centralized advice structure (one, or a few persons being asked a lot for advice) and a decentralized trust network (members being more similar in the level they trust others) both have a positive effect on performance, but also that having more advice relations which are combined with trust in the team as a whole, have an impact on the performance of all its members.

Filip Agneessens’ research centers on network formation within organizations and their impact on attitudes and behavior of individual employees, with a particular focus on how networks might impact job satisfaction and performance. He has also been working on the development of random and biased networks, the building of social support typologies and how they might impact an individual’s wellbeing. In recent work he has also adapted exponential random graph models (p*models) to study cultural participation and (co) sponsorship among senators as two-mode networks. He teaches courses on network theory, social network methods and social network analysis applied to organizations.

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