Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge and Management

Egocentric Database Operations for Social and Economic Network Analysis

Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge and Management

Egocentric Database Operations for Social and Economic Network Analysis

Article excerpt


A social network is basically a set of actors and relations that hold these actors together. Actors can be individuals (egos), organizations, departments, or families. Actors exchange information and knowledge among themselves. These kinds of information exchanges are considered a social network relation where individuals who maintain the relation are said to maintain a tie. The simplest form of a social network consists of actors or events and their connections to each other. The use of a social network depends on the availability of relational schemas rather than the attribute data. It further allows the mapping of relationships among people that can be used to identify knowledge and information flow such as who people seek assistance from during economic hardship or share information with. By using social network analysis, users can be aware of how information flow through social ties and how people acquire information.

Egocentric social network analysis focuses on the network of individuals where each person has his or her own network of relationships that may traverse to many different groups. These relationships contribute to individual's behaviour and attitudes. The strength of egocentric analysis is its ability to capture the diversity of a social environment. The strength may range from weak to strong which depends on the number and types of social activities and resources. In egocentric studies, participants are asked for a list of their network members (alters). Researchers are then interested in constructing a network that is composed of each individual and his or her links to the alters. Each alter links to other alters. It is difficult to survey each of the alters when there are many links among alters and egos. It is then possible for researchers to rely on participants in reporting their relationships to their alters (Coleman, Kartz, & Menze, 1987).

Researchers are always interested about the existence of a tie and possibly its strength and avoid questions about asymmetric ties because these are unlikely to be well understood by respondents. For example, respondents are not likely to know if two of their co-workers know each other unequally. In addition, consider a situation where there are cooperative societies trying to understand the way each member borrows and pays back loans granted.

Literature Review on Egocentric

Graphs and matrices are normally used to present social network and qualifying important structural properties. Graphs are instruments of reasoning about quantitative information. Often the most effective way to describe and summarise a set of numbers, even a large set, is to look at the pictures of those numbers through graph presentation in a graph. Graphic presentation such as set partition cannot only describe data in different ways but can also facilitate the comparison among sets of data, stimulate scientific innovation, and even encourage theoretical insights.

All work done so far on egocentric social network was based on visualization of every member. Information visualization of egocentric social network consists of an appropriate transformation of input data to output graphics (Chalmers & Chitson, 1992). Accordingly, it can be argued that a visualization method is acceptable only if it clearly identifies the relevant information of ego in relation to alter and defines an appropriate mapping to generate their connections. Effective visual attributes for information coding are position, size, shape, colour, motion, etc. Light (2001) believed visualization should be a means of involving the user in a search for results rather than creating visualization to present results to the users.

Nardi et al. (2002) used spatial grouping and colour redundantly code for various community groups within a visualization of a user's e-mail contacts. TouchGraph ( used a force directed layout to present a network visualization of users by allowing personal networks to be expanded or contracted by the users' interactions. …

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