NodeXL: Mapping my Facebook network

Current Trends in Social Computing (IS30290) was one of the most interesting and engaging classes I took as part of my Masters in Library and Information Studies (MLIS). It explored issues relating to social media and social networks, but also the characteristics of networks, data reuse, social capital, characteristics of infrastructure, user generated content, memes, crowd sourcing and the social impacts of social computing. Our lecturer really brought the topics and issues to life and encouraged critical thinking. I loved it.

One of the tools for evaluating social media explored during the course was NodeXL. The program itself was not without it’s problem but once I got the hang of it it revealed some interesting results.

Mapping my Facebook network


Vertices and edges in this graph represent my Facebook friends and the friendship links between them. The different colours represent different groups of friends, using the Fruchterman-Reingold layout, with the vertex size representing the number of connections, or degree, that person has within the network.

Using the Fruchterman-Reingold layout I can clearly see the groups of people within my friends who also know each other. This groups that have appeared are uncannily accurate. It comes as no surprise that groups of friends in the real world should translate into groups of friends in the online world, however the first time I saw the graph appear I admit that it felt a bit – spooky. The vertex size represents the number of connections, or degree, that person has within the network, so those that have more connections are represented by larger dots.

By degrees my husband is the most important person in my graph and he is located among my ‘local friends’. This is somewhat reassuring. The next most important people by degree are all members of staff at the animal shelter (DSPCA) where I volunteer. This group is represented by orange dots. These people are also the most important by Closeness Centrality. The people within this group also have a very high degree of connectedness as they are all friends with each other. This is a very tight group of people (other volunteers and staff) who are passionate about animal welfare.

The largest group in the graph (represented by red dots) represents what I can best describe as my local friends. These are people are friends that I went to school with or people that I have known since I was quite young. There are a lot of connections between people in this group with some of these friends having a very high degree of connectedness.

Other groups that have formed are the friends I made while studying for my undergraduate degree in Trinity College. There are some links between this group and my local friends as can be seen in the graph. Other groups include some of the knitters (dark green) that I know through my hobby and a group of people that I met when I spent a year in France on Ersamus (pale blue).

The final two groups of interest are my family represented by the blue vertices and the friends that I have made through the MLIS, called SILS on the graph and represented in lime green. There is one single link between my SILS friends and the rest of my graph. It turns out that one my fellow students knows one of my cousins’ wife. This was a surprise as this was a connection I wasn’t aware of before this.

Shaelyn Take 2

I had quite a bit of yarn left over from my Colour Affection and wanted to find a way to use them up. I have knit Shaelyn before and really enjoyed the pattern. When I was looking for options for my leftover Malabrigo Sock in Lettuce and Eggplant it dawned on me that this pattern lent itself perfectly to stripes. I’ve have all the details up on Ravelry too.

Shaelyn (2)I had more lettuce than eggplant left so I knit rows 1(22) to 10 in lettuce and 11 to 21 in eggplant. So this means that the lettuce stripe goes from the garter ridge, through the lace section and the second garter ridge before switching back to the eggplant for the stockinette stripe. I ran out of green before I could finish the final lace section so it’s a few rows shorter than the others.

Shaelyn (1)

Starting with eggplant there are 7 eggplant stripes and 6.5 lettuce stripes. I started with 56g of lettuce and 47g of eggplant and finished with less than a gram of lettuce and 9g of eggplant.

Shaelyn (3)The colours immediately told me that this shawl was destined for a friend of mine who loaned me her graphic design skills at Christmas. I was so tempted to keep this because I just love the combination of colours and texture but my friend really seemed to appreciate the gift so it was worth giving it away.

Social Media in Libraries

One of our assignments for Current Trends in Social Computing (IS30290) was a group presentation. My group chose to talk about social media use in libraries and I gave the 20 minute presentation in class on behalf of the group. Below is a edited version of the presentation, published with permission from the group members.

Social media iconsLibrary 2.0

‘Library 2.0’  is a term that provides focus to a number of ongoing conversations around the changing ways that libraries should make themselves and their services visible to end users. In the library domain, we are seeing trends to mirror those in the wider information space. Libraries 2.0 means implementing methods that make library content visible and relevant to those who might never have thought to turn to a library for anything more than a warm place to check their e-mail.

A library website is now only part of the online presence that a library now has to have. Web 2.0, the ever changing tide towards mobile internet and social and more on the go apps have shifted the sand even further and faster in the last 5 to 10 years then ever before. We as information professionals (or librarians) will be at the coalface of this information change. The real promise and hope of library 2.0 is in its ability to strengthen communities and enable discourse around information resources which works towards advancing human knowledge.

So why should libraries be using social media?

Community engagement: We hear over and over again how libraries need to engage with their users, go where their users are, particularly digital libraries need to bring their content to their users. Well the clue is in the name – social media.

It’s free: The second major reason to use social media is that it’s free. Ok, so it’s not totally free – you’re using spending money on time and human resources. But the platforms themselves are free to use, which is great news for libraries who generally have a pretty tight budget.

Tip #1: Look at what other libraries are doing and ‘borrow’ their ideas

We also looked at how we feel libraries can make the most out of social media by using examples of how Irish organisations are doing it well. So our first tip is look at what other libraries are doing and ‘borrow’ their ideas.

Tip #2: Have a clear social media policy

The Irish Cancer Society Cancer Information Service, while not a library, is a great example of how you can use social media to disseminate information. Their Cancer Information Service is using both Facebook and Twitter to provide cancer information.

They very kindly sent us a copy of their social media policy which sets out “how to comment and respond to comments on Facebook and Twitter, how to engage with followers and how to maximize security on these networks”. They also set out clear instructions in the event that their accounts get hacked as well as how to be proactive about security.

According to the social media policy cancer information services nurses compose messages promoting awareness of cancer, while also “taking every opportunity to link with the Irish Cancer Society’s website, promote the service, publications and campaigns.” They suggest posting corrections rather than removing comments that are innacurate, as removal of posts cause lack of trust and encourages backlash. They also include a stock response in their social media policy.

Tip #3: Don’t just broadcast – INTERACT

I’m sure we’ve all encountered an organisation that just uses social media to broadcast their message or links to their website but doesn’t actually interact with users. This is the easiest way to annoy your users. Libraries should be ready and willing to respond to comments and should set out how this is done in their Social Media Policy.

The Military Archives have taken interaction to another level. They are asking members of the public to help them identify the people in the photos in their archive. To do this they have made their archive available to the public via Flickr.

This is a great way to get the community to help them flesh out their archives but also to get the community engaged with the content that they have. The Defense Forces have also seen a rise in the demand for their physical archive since they have started interacting with their audience through social media.

Tip #4: Go beyond the metrics

Libraries need to constantly justify why the run programs and in some cases they need to justify their very existence. This is also true for social media.

The easiest way to look at ‘success’ with social media is to look at the metrics. This can mean looking at the usual metrics such as the google analytics and seeing how many people have viewed your website or blog.

But it also means looking at the number of likes on Facebook and the number of followers on Twitter or Flickr. Libraries can also look at the number of likes and retweets on a particular tweet, the number of likes, shares or comments on a Facebook post or blog post and the number of comments on Flickr.

But to get a real sense of whether their social media use is working Libraries should also go beyond the metrics and look at the comments and replies they are getting. By doing this they can see whether they are reaching their target audience.

Tip #4 NLI commentsIn the example on screen we’re returning to the National Library of Ireland. They shared a photo on Facebook from their Wiltshire Collection. As well as 63 likes and 21 shares we can see the comments on the post. One commenter said they could spend months browsing the collection, where another comments that they had just started to learn about holy wells that are also found in the collection and that they were delighted to find some photos of them. This proves that the NLI are reaching their intended audience and helping new users to discover their collections.

A walk in Kilmacurragh

My mum and I took the dogs for a walk in Kilmacurragh, Co. Wicklow over the weekend. I brought my camera along because my mum had promised me beautiful flowers. And she wasn’t wrong. Kilmacurragh is known for it’s rhododendrons, which are in full bloom at the moment. This post is going to be heaving on images, but I hope they will be worth it.

Kilmacurragh 146Everywhere I looked I saw something else I wanted to photograph. Bluebells are one of my favourite flowers, there’s just something magical about them, something that reminds me of fairies. There were bluebells in abundance to photograph, but this is my favourite bluebell shot of the day.

Kilmacurragh 109Kilmacurragh is know for its rhododendron and parts of the garden were carpeted in pink. It was just so beautiful.

Kilmacurragh 115Ollie and Mia were a bit impatient with all this stopping and starting but I think they enjoyed the morning in the end. We even stopped for a little cuddle.

Kilmacurragh 185This beautiful yellow flower is also a rhododendron, it’s called luteum. I think we counted around seven or eight different types of rhododendron.

Kilmacurragh 176As well as rhododenrons in an array of different colours, there were other beautiful flowers as well. I tried to take photos of the name tags that accompany each tree or flower so I would be able to find the names of all the flowers I photographed, but I seem to have missed the name of these tiny blue flowers, so if anyone recognises them please let me know.

Kilmacurragh 192

If you’re into gardening or flowers it’s a must visit. And even if you’re just looking for somewhere nice to spend an afternoon I highly recommend it.


And breathe

Semester 2 is now over and I feel like I can breathe again. Those last few weeks were really tough and I’ve now had my first few days off in months. I’ve actually finished a few projects recently that I haven’t blogged about yet. I was so busy working on assignments I couldn’t bear to keep working at the computer writing for my blog but I did have time for knitting in the evenings.

Blight 127In fact I gave myself a few hours dispensation every evening to relax and unwind before bed to help me sleep. So I’ve finished three shawls in the last few months, as well as my Colour Affection. I’ve been on a bit of a shawl buzz recently, but I’m not sure why. This is the most recent finished shawl. The photo below is courtesy of my hubby who was very patient and trekked around the park with me today trying to avoid the rain showers.

Blight 011The pattern is Blight by Deborah Frank and the yarn is Coolree Alpaca/Silk/Cashmere 4ply in the colourway Byzantium, which is a beautiful purple. I wanted a pattern that would be a bit of a challenge and when I spotted this one on Ravelry I was hooked. I enjoyed the pattern itself, although it took me a while to get used to the fact that only one half of the shawl was charted, as both sides are mirror images of each other. But once I got into it, that shawl has a lovely rhythm to it. I actually finished it surprisingly quickly.

Blight 145The yarn is delicious, so soft and smushy. The alpace, silk, cashmere blend is so soft and so lovely to work with. It has blocked quite well but I suspect it’s so soft I suspect it might need to be regularly blocked to keep the lace crisp. Summers in Ireland are never really summers so a light, delicate shawl like this one will be a great accessory to have.

Sunflower 002Oh, and I treated myself to something tasty as a reward for surviving the semester. More Coolree, I’ve become a bit obsessed with ochre recently. I don’t know what it’s going to be, I just really wanted to have it. The next project on my needles is a bag in grey with an ochre fabric lining. Lord knows how I’m going to actually line it but I’ll figure that out later.