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Introduction to network properties

In this article we introduce you to the key network properties of social networks ie nodes (people) and edges (friendships).
© University of Southampton 2017

Thinking about social media interactions as a network helps us to compare and analyse them. It can tell us about the role that individuals take within the network, explain how these social networks might behave or change, and help us to identify important people or relationships.

In this step you will have a chance to learn in more detail about some of the terms and concepts that were introduced in our introductory video lecture. It may help to remember that:

  • Nodes are the things in the network. In a social network nodes are people.

  • Edges are the connections in the network (between nodes). In a social network edges are friendships.

In the following Steps we will introduce some key network concepts and apply them to an example social network to see what we can learn.

In each article there is a brief section at the top called Essential Knowledge that summarises the key things that you need to know. The following section You May Be Interested That goes into a bit more detail and expands on the explanation. The final section If You Are Really Curious contains optional material including the mathematical definitions for those that want them.

Once you have read through and understood the articles there is a brief quiz where you will be able to test your understanding and see how well you can apply them to real networks!

You will also find this new knowledge useful in preparation for the activity later on in the week in which we analyse a simple Twitter-like social network to identify which of its participants is the most powerful and influential individual.

© University of Southampton 2017
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