Everyone talks about networking. Social networks are increasingly important—from using Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family, to using professional contacts to find jobs.
Network of Actors and Actresses
Social network analysis is the study of the relationships between all the individual actors contained in one group. With social network analysis, we can examine the workings of a group of interconnected people. This is great for the social sciences because it allows the investigation of relationships at a small-world level. Social network analysis shows the patterns and flow of the relationship dynamics within the group.
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One of my favorite resources for state-of-the-art literature on policy issues of all kinds is the National Academies Press, the publishing arm of the National Academy of Sciences. Today NAP launched AcademyScope, an intriguing tool for visualizing networks of related reports. NAP has over 5,000 reports (many of which are book-length) available for download for free. Thus, this new tool makes searching for old and new reports easier or, at least, more fun.
For example, one of my research interests is household food security in the United States. To see what reports they might have related to this, I pick “Food and Nutrition” from the topic bar on the right. That brings up four bubbles of which I select “Policy, Reviews, and Evaluations.” This then brings up an interactive visual network showing which of the three dozen reports in this area are connected to which other reports. At the lower left-hand side of the screen I can select to see an interactive histogram of publications by hear. Clicking on a year in the histogram highlights reports in the network for just that year.
I can zoom in and out of the network to read the titles of the reports. Once I click on a report, it becomes larger and detailed information appears on the right. Related publications are shown on the right as well and I can hover the mouse over each to get additional information before making a selection which brings up a whole new network related to that document. You can also click and drag the images of the documents to make it easier to see lines connecting documents in a busy network.
In my case, I end up clicking on an “old” report from 2006 that I used in my dissertation and this identifies for me a couple of reports from last year that I wasn’t aware of. Try it.
Data about political advertising historically have been difficult to access, though recently the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) began implementing new disclosure requirements for TV stations.
FCC data allow for the examination of campaign spending in the Iowa Senate race. More about these graphs below.
Who advertises and how much they spend intrigues political observers, not to mention campaign competitors. Intrigue aside, this information is important for a democratic system aspiring to offer candidates equal access to paid broadcast media – and to put some stops on the ability of the broadcasters to pad their own pockets.
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