Chapter 10. Social Networks and Data Journalism

In this chapter we’ll explore two topics that have started to become especially hot over the past 5 to 10 years: social networks and data journalism. Social networks (not necessarily just online ones) have been studied by sociology departments for decades, as has their counterpart in computer science, math, and statistics departments: graph theory. However, with the emergence of online social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+, we now have a new rich source of data, which opens many research problems both from a social science and quantitative/technical point of view.

We’ll hear first about how one company, Morningside Analytics, visualizes and finds meaning in social network data, as well as some of the underlying theory of social networks. From there, we look at constructing stories that can be told from social network data, which is a form of data journalism. Thinking of the data scientist profiles—and in this case, gene expression is an appropriate analogy—the mix of math, stats, communication, visualization, and programming required to do either data science or data journalism is slightly different, but the fundamental skills are the same. At the heart of both is the ability to ask good questions, to answer them with data, and to communicate one’s findings. To that end, we’ll hear briefly about data journalism from the perspective of Jon Bruner, an editor at O’Reilly.

Social Network Analysis at Morning ...

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