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Trying to find useful things to do with emerging technologies in open education

Personal Twitter Networks in Hashtag Communities

Another conference I’m not at, this time ALT-C, so time for another blatant attempt to raise my profile at the event even if I’m not there with another Twitter related hack…;-) This time, a little tool to help you explore the extent of your Twitter network within a community of people using a particular hashtag.

Here’s a tease of the sort of report it gives:

My place in a Twitter hashtag community http:ouseful.open.ac.uk/twitterMyhashtagNet.php?q=psychemedia&h=altc2009

Some numbers (I’ll let you know what in a minute…) A list of people in the hashtag network who are followed by a particular individual (their “friends”). A list of people in the hashtag network who follow a particular individual, but are not followed (friended) back (their “serfs”). A list of people in the hashtag network who are followed (friended) a particular individual, but do not follow them (their “slebs”). A list of people in the hashtag network who neither follow nor are followed (friended) by a particular individual (“the void”).

Before I go on, I should probably also define what I mean by a hashtag community, not last because there are some, err, pragmatic constraints on defining this;-)

For the purposes of this post, a hashtag community is a collection of people who have used a particular hashtag more than a certain minimum specified number of times in a set of Twitter posts that use the hashtag. In my default ad hoc set up, I tend to look for people who have used the hashtag more than 3 times in the most recent 500 or so tweets. For the proof of concept demo, I also limit the size of the hashtag network to 100, otherwise the pipework that underpins it starts to fall over…

UPDATE:
Here’s a bit more explanation about why the app doesn’t always show people in the community you ‘know’ to be there…

You may notice that not everyone you know has used the hashtag appears in the friends and followers lists. This is because the size of the hashtag community is limited in three ways:

  • hashtag use sample size: for this proof of concept, the hashtag community analysis is based on a Twitter search that grabs the 500 most recent uses of the declard hashtag. If this were a production tool, it would pull the complete archive of hashtag use from one of the twitter archiving services. if you want that feature, build it yourself…;-)
  • minimum number of tweets: an optional paramenter in the URI identifies the minimum number of hashtagged tweets that a user must have sent in the sample to be considered a member of the community. By setting this numbr large, it allows you to just see the heaviest hashtagger in the community, or filter out people who maybe just use the hashtag once in a retweet. (I think there’s a bug in the code – if you set this mintweets paramter to 2, the user must have hashtagged at least 3 times. i.e. one more. 10 is 11.
  • Max community size: an ‘issue’ in the Twitter search API means I need to call the Twitter API once for every person in the community. This overhead can break the pipework, so the community size can be limited arbitrarily.

The inspiration for the report is a typical ego thing – to what extent is my personal Twitter network dominated by the membership of a particular hashtag community. (Note I’ve explored related ideas in a variety of other ad hoc ways: Who’s Tweeting Our Hashtag?, Where Next With The Hashtagging Twitterers List?, Preliminary Thoughts on Visualising the OpenEd09 Twitter Network, A Quick Peek at the IWMW2009 Twitter Network, More Thinkses Around Twitter Hashtag Networks: #JISCRI and Handling Yahoo Pipes Serialised PHP Output).

Anyway, in the current example, the numbers I’ve started to look at are defined as follows. All numbers are either integers, or real numbers in the range 0..1.

So what do the numbers mean?

  • Number of hashtaggers: the number of people in the hashtag network, Ngalaxy;
  • Hashtaggers as followers (‘hashtag followers’): the number of people in the hashtag community who are following the named individual, Gfollowers
  • Hashtaggers as friends (‘hashtag friends’): the number of people in th hashtag community that the named individual has friended, Griends
  • Hashtagger followers not friended (‘serfs’): the number of people in the hashtag community that follow the named individual but that are not followed back (i.e. who are not friends of the named individual), Gserfs
  • Hashtagger friends not following (‘slebs’): the number of people in the hashtag community that are followed by the named individual (i.e. friends) but that do not follow them back (i.e. who are not also followers of the named individual), Gslebs
  • Hashtaggers not friends or followers (‘the hashtag void’): the number of people in the hashtag community who neither follow, nor are friended by, the named individual Gvoid
  • Reach into hashtag community: the proportion of the the hashtag community that follow the named individual; a measure of the extent to which an individual can reach the hashtag community without actually using the hashtag; Greach=Gfollowers/Ngalaxy.
  • Reception of hashtag community the proportion of the the hashtag community that are followed by (i.e. are friends of) the named individual; a measure of the extent to which an individual sees messages from the hashtag community without directly tracking the hashtag; Greception=Gfriends/Ngalaxy
  • Hashtag void (normalised): the size of the void normalised relative to the size of the hashtag community; the proportion of the hashtag community that are unlikely to be directly encountered outside of the hashtag community; Normvoid=Gvoid/Ngalaxy
  • Total personal followers the total number of followers of the named individual, Nfollowers
  • Total personal friends: the total number of friends of the named individual Nfriends
  • Hashtag community dominance of personal reach: the extent to which the hashtag community dominates the set of people who follow the named individual, Domreach=Gfollowers/Nfollowers. If all the named individual’s followers are in the hashtag community, Domreach=1. If none of them are, Domreach=0.
  • Hashtag community dominance of personal reception: the extent to which the set of the named individual’s friends is dominated by members of the hashtag community, Domreception=Gfriends/Nfriends. If all the named individual’s friends are in the hashtag community, Domreception=1. If none of them are, Domreception=0.

If you want to try the tool out, the interface is provided by the URI:
http://ouseful.open.ac.uk/twitterMyhashtagNet.php?q=ostephens&h=altc2009&mintweets=2&maxusers=99

I have no idea whether any of these measures are used in more formal analyses (I’ve yet to start my formal reading of the proper social network analysis stuff…) but it’s a way in for me to start thinking about what measures that might be in some sense meaningful and both easy to explain and calculate;-)

Written by Tony Hirst

September 9, 2009 at 10:47 am

Posted in Pipework, Tinkering

Tagged with , ,

7 Responses

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  1. […] I spent an hour or two tinkering with the dev version of my prototype hashtag community explorer (Personal Twitter Networks in Hashtag Communities), in part prompted by a tweet from @sleslie, thinking about what sorts of features might help you […]

  2. […] posts from spam followers?  In order to seeks an answer to this question I have made use of Tony Hirst’s software to analyse Twitter communities centred around an event […]

  3. […] could this info be used as part of a “link community” tracker, cf. hashtag communities? Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Why bit.ly is Better than […]

  4. […] on and off displays a list of people who have been using a hashtag, and their relationship to you (Personal Twitter Networks in Hashtag Communities). These people have demonstrated a high level of engagement with the programme, and to be blunt […]

  5. […] Twitter lists pull together a list of Twitter users and let you see tweets from all of them. So if we run an event and get participants’ Twitter IDs, we can generate a list of participants to provide a single point of access to follow those particpants. For greater salience, we could also run the feed through a hashtag filter, so we only get to see tweets from those participants tagged with the event hashtag. (Note to self – I need to create a “generate list of hashtaggers” from the hashtag community app.) […]

  6. […] to an oversight in coding of of my hashtag community pipe, the community isn’t actually constructed around hashtag use – it’s based around […]

  7. […] over my own Personal Twitter Networks in Hashtag Communities, the metrics I report […]


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