Webcamp – Social Networks


Many thanks to John Breslin for organising Irelands first Webcamp, last Wednesday 7th March. The afternoon was an enlightening look into the development, search, analysis and productive uses of social networks.

I’ve wiki’d some notes on event (Ed – 2013, notes below).

Particularly interesting was the response of designated Bebo’s spokesperson, Mark Tarbatt of webvertising firm Generator, to my questions about potential Bebo censorship. The impression Mark (whose firm seem solely responsible for selling branding on Bebo, at least in Ireland) gave was that, in the event of a conflict between a user video or community (the example I provided was a hypothetical ‘killer coke’ video on Votetube’s bebo profile) and a Bebo advertiser, such a user or community could be removed. This seems credible given that Mark stated Bebo’s recent adoption of comment moderation occurred not in response to problems of user abuse or sexually explicit spam, but to satisfy the desire of Coca Cola (a bebo advertiser) to prevent ‘harassment’ on it’s branded bebo site.

A quick search of Bebo indicates the existence of just such a conflict.


Topics, tags and trends in the blogosphere

Conner Hayes Slides

Looked at (inter)relationship between blogs, and their topics

sought topic related interlink structure
7k blog data set
Muhammad cartoon controversy tracked

Blogosphere user centric vs topic centric Usenet

Clutters of topic sharing blogs are short lived

Strong clusters hold users
but users drift from topics over time

Extreme topic drift increases user falloff

Tags poor method of tracking blog post content

Concept clustering better

A list blogs more similar to one another

more topic focused, consistent – authorities
tags chosen for comprehensibility
tight networks of clusters

C list blogs have higher user entropy

little or no inward linking


How were A list bloggers defined?

What about Maven Bloggers / influential but narrow popularity – Malcolm Gladwell’s Idea articulated in ‘The Tipping Point

Does user topic drift account for primacy of link aggregator blogs / communities

Collecting community wisdom: integrating social search and social navigation

Jill Freyne Slides

2 Aspects – social browsing and social search, combined to augment search of Association for Computing Machinery Digital Library (popular computer science pub database – with browsing and search navigation)

KnowledgeSea – social browsing

Collates anonymized browsing history
Provides the capacity for digg like ratings and annotation

iSpy – social search

Reranks results based on previous keyword searches by user group
Icon based visual cues on rating etc

Combined and integrated both systems – increased search efficacy

where’s the hook for students to build this system – are legal restrictions keeping the content closed ?

would it not be better to use off the shelf digg / like solutions ? alternately light weight sem web client on top of existing networks of databases ?

Quirky mystery meat interface – why do academic database sits have to be so unusable

Annotations could be used to increase utility of abstract

No information provided on stat significance of results

Control group browsing history is artificially useful seed for social group
How to compare trained systems fairly?

The demand for search in a social network

Andrew Page Slides

Founders of Bigulu – Bebo search, 2 Phd students

May expand to other networks

Crawls Bebo to allow superior profile search based on keyword, age, gender, location

Estimate Bebo at 7m users not 25m as claimed !

Slow linear growth of Bigalu

Sem web API would aid search and data migration

New features – inc user popularity (like Facebook radar)

Inbound links as social distance cue to search

limitations on social scraping due to private profiles etc


What is user persistence like?

Could they be underestimating Bebo network due to islands (isolated nodes or clusters – social darknets) ?

Is ‘low attention span’ really a function of high efficacy expectation

Are assumptions about viral growth of Bebo correct? Implied signup active network discrepancy

Where is the knowledge: reflections on social networking in corporate environments

Gabriela Avram Slides

(Virtual) ethnographic study of collaborative work practices

IBM Dublin software lab

Technology as tool inseparable from culture

technofetishism (sysadmin) vs fluffy-bunnies (people persons)
tools should be tailored to users
human guides to knowledge repositories vital
social networks facilitate knowledge aquisition

Lotus Messenger tool

IM – integrates: blog, wiki, org chart, social bookmarks, presence, contact details
Used to request ad-hoc meeting attendance
Used to reduce steps to data acquisition
Documents can link to individuals
Real time back channel in meetings

Data Retention

Legal and practical requirements to archive data
creates and enforces etiquette
no interdiction on personal contact – social honor enforces

Successful campaigns on the Bebo social network

Mark Tarbatt Slides

Small list of clients – A list Irish sites

Daft, Eircom, RTE, Bebo etc

Sell to ad agencies and brands

Internet only 1% Irish advertising market
UK internet ad budget = 2X Irish ALL media budget
Ireland € 24 per user, UK € 80 per user

Main income to Bebo (other than VC) = ads

All major Irish net spending brands advertise
Brand budget (overall) – 140k – 600k (top ten)
Some brands shy away from user content areas – use frontpage etc

Bebo top site for under 17 in Ireland (comscore)

Average visit 75mins ! (of 3 hour session)
95% reach
drops off list of top sites in older categories
Use by corps like Mcdonalds under pressure not to kidvertise on TV

Relevance, customer interaction / relationship to brand


Sidebar ads
Branded profiles (eg: Disney Cars)
Branded Bebo mail window
Clickable in video advertisement tickers

Texter widget – Moco – € 2 a week

Anti sponsor brand comments / groups (eg: killer coke) would probably be removed


Ethics of Bebo spread? Via address book spam?

Growth of Facebook a threat?

Lack of direct access in school has not limited popularity

Corruption of utility of social media in ‘brand interaction’

Interesting to note bebo added comment moderation not in response to cyber bullying but concerns of Coke – insistence on stifling branded profile criticism

Texter widget is misleading

initially video states that service is free
only mentions charges towards end of video

Keynote: Social network analysis: 1987-2007

Valdis Krebs Slides

Any kind of network can be mathematically mapped

from social networks to computer networks
social / organisational network analysis
Inflow software

‘Highly between person’ connects networks

analogous to Gladwells superconnector

David Krackhardt – organisational structure related to power

Hierarchy, network position, and network knowledge – knowing the map

Six Degrees of Separation = Golden myth

original study flawed (response bias)
Noah Friedkin – UC Santa Barba – Social networks have a horizon
2 step clarity – blind after 4 connections max
outer reaches of network are invisible

Mark Granovetter – one or at most 2 intermediaries useful

in context of information (job) seeking
direct ties most useful of all

IBM and Valdis Krebs – adaptive organisations have higher average reach

data acquired through survey and interview, document sharing etc

Pharmaceutical firms market to opinion leaders

use social network analysis to target doctors who influence drug prescription of contemporaries

Formalising of common interest networks

Bounded vs unbounded (not task / job delimited) networks

Network weaving = analyzing networks to build communities
9/11 hijacker network – built on media published data

conclusion – project teams are similar
task focused group structures do not vary based on task

False positives can emerge from social network analysis

limited inferences can be reasonably drawn

Infrastructures are built on effectiveness not resilience

useful for network attacks


Evolution of social networks over time? – differ based on organisation evolution? – loose voluntary network migration

Richness of less visible ties?

Does similarity of group structure apply cross culturally?

Group Discussion – Future of social networks

Existing Networks

tribe, livejournal -> myspace -> bebo -> facebook

Do super connectors lead network migration / adoption?

Do teens socialise on social networks, or just mirror existing real world acquaintance?

do users actively resist socialising
are there different socialisation patterns culturally, network determined
Book – – reinforcement of preexisting connections
social networks not scale free

Social networks as dating substitute – exhibitionism

display, personality branding
rating and identity definition
utility of maintenance of connections over time
forking elitist / domain specific networks

Social networks -> open id -> light sem web clients -> device based ad hoc attentional aggrigators

carrying groups between networks
open attentional data
open identity data
balance of privacy, security, reputation and freedom

Hardware versions of my blog log / twitter

mobile ubiquitous anonymised positional aggregation
variety of possible consequences
loss of privacy vs great utility
branded flash mobs – ala Dublin’s black parade
social network manipulation and politicisation
SNA used to infer guilt by association / track dissidents
pattern matching by employers

Comparative safety of blogging – distance from ‘online friends’

Exaggerated fears of predation

Reputation as currency

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