Graph Commons is happy to share the network mapping workshop notes with you. Below, you will find a useful guide, conceptual and practical insights for making and understanding network maps.
This is the last part of a 3-part guide on mapping, understanding, and analyzing networks. We will focus on the design and understanding of complex networks through mapping and visual analysis in order to expand your thinking about the network as a creative and critical medium. For the other parts, view “Creative and critical use of complex networks” and “Mapping Network“.
Analyzing Network Maps
We can start analyzing a network map by examining its centrality and clustering metrics. Here is some of the concepts for reading and analyzing networks in a single image.
Who are the most important actors and what are their locations in the network? Centrality measure is not just the number of connections an actor has. The question is rather how a bridge role a node has between clusters, and how close it is to other members of the network. Who are the connectors, leaders, who bridges, who isolates. What is the position of actors within clusters, who are in the core of the network, and who are on the periphery?
What organic groups or clusters exist in a network? Discovering clusters of nodes, which have more connections to one another than they do to outsiders. You can name the clusters by looking at who is in it. The structural holes between the clusters as well as the bridges between them are as important as the clusters themselves.
Which actors are alike? Determining actors who play a similar role and have similar positions. They show us alternative paths, as well as redundancy in the network. Refers to the extent to which actors have a common set of linkages to other actors in the system.
What is the distance between two actors? What indirect relationships exist? Revealing normally invisible connections and the degrees of separation between actors.
How well a network is connected, compared to other networks? Comparing density of networks, as well as connectivity of different regions within a single network.
What is the longest path in the network? Finding the reach, that is, how long it will take at most to reach any node in the network.