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Social graphs in social networks

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A graph is a mathematical abstraction for modelling relationships between things. A graph is constructed from nodes (the things) and edges (the relationships). Th is mathematical tool that can model natural and artificial systems such as economy, deceases, power grids, etc. has been used by the anthropologists, sociologists and other humanities oriented academics. However, graph analysis and social network analysis are also valuable tools for studying the web and human behaviours of the web users.

Social network analysis may be applied in any web field where a graph may be constructed. From the appearance of social networking sites, users were forming graphs with their friends and this was the ideal source of fresh data to apply social network analysis. One of the most prominent issues in social networks is the formation or the identifi cation of a network of nodes based on real world knowledge (school friends, colleagues etc.) or web extracted knowledge (they are part of the same online community, they like the same movies, etc.).

Social graph expansion

Social network analysis applied in the web by utilising the interconnected Web 2.0 blogs and their comments. Backlinks of posts and the blogroll (list of other blogs) of each blog constructed a graph that could provide some information. Th is structure was diffi cult to update, error prone (copy paste links, write urls, etc.) and the users had to have a web page or blog of their own.

Social networking sites created the tool that made relations easier to track and build. Now every user that has an account in a SNS can “tag” information and propagate it to that network. “Likes”, “tweets”, “diggs”, etc. are one button actions that users perform while surfi ng the web in order to post a piece of information without leaving from the current web page.

Facebook open graph

Facebook Open Graph (http://developers.facebook.com/docs/opengraph) provides an interface for interconnecting web pages with the Facebook social graph. Th e most common practice is to add a “Like” button near a media object in a web page and let users share their “Likes”. When a user clicks the “Like” button outside the Face-book platform, a new connection is formed in the user’s profi le. Th is simple API has signifi cant impact on the generated content in the Facebook platform considering the 500 million active Facebook users that surf the web and collect “Likes”.

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