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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Social networks and online environments: when science and practice co-evolve

  • Author(s): Rosen, Devan
  • Barnett, George A.
  • Kim, Jang Hyun
  • et al.

The science of social network analysis has co-evolved with the development of online environments and computer-mediated communication. Unique and precise data available from computer and information systems have allowed network scientists to explore novel social phenomena and develop new methods. Additionally, advances in the structural analysis and visualization of computer-mediated social networks have informed developers and shaped the design of social media tools. This article reviews some examples of research that highlight the ways that social network analysis has evolved with online data. Examples include the international hyperlink network, political blogs and hyperlinks, social media, and multi-user virtual environments. The data available from online environments makes several important contributions to network science, including reliable network flow data, unique forms of relational data across a myriad of contexts, and dynamic data allowing for longitudinal analysis and the animation of social networks.

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