Social Networks

Entries related to social networks, group psychology, anthropology, and really any of the social sciences.

Digging into Empire Avenue Data.

A while ago, I wrote about programs that I had created using the Empire Avenue API to extract portfolio information. Originally, I wrote about using it for my own portfolio, but you can also get limited information about other people's portfolios.

So, I started pulling down the portfolios of the people that I own stock in to do some expanded analysis. Given the limits of the Empire Ave API, I can only pull down around half a dozen large portfolios per hour. Nonetheless, I kept it running for an extended period until I had pulled down around 450 different portfolios. I then loaded the data in MySQL and started crunching some numbers.

From these 450 different portfolios, I came up with approximate 30,000 different tickers. 38 different tickers appeared in over two thirds of all the portfolios I analyzed. 134 showed up in half of the portfolios, and 360 showed up in at least a third of the portfolios. Nearly 10,000 showed up in only one portfolio.

Not surprisingly, as a general rule, the 38 tickers were highly active players that are on various leader boards. It seems as if by using this data, it should be possible to recognize people that cluster into certain groups and acts as connectors between these groups. However, I have yet to find nice ways of coming up with these groupings.

All the News that's Fit to Blog

The New York Times is well know for its tag lie, "All the News that's Fit to Print". The recent OpEd by Greg Smith was challenged o the grounds that some random disgruntled guy leaving Goldman Sachs wasn't newsworthy. However, the reaction to the OpEd seems to illustrate the newsworthiness. Clearly, it has been a highly talked about OpEd.

Others have questioned whether it made sense for Mr. Smith to have his OpEd published; talk about burning bridges, Mr. Smith nuked those bridges with some of the toxic waste at Goldman.

I was thinking about this as I sat at a concert at our local high school. The music was pretty good and Kim and Fiona were really enjoying themselves, but I was so tired and the music was so loud that it just wasn't resonating properly for me.

Should I blog about the event, and if so, what should I say? Should I talk about how good the music was, even though I wasn't particularly enjoying myself? Should I talk about not particularly enjoying the show, even though the music was good? Should I just say nothing?

I thought about all my friends into positively thinking about attracting abundance, or whatever the correct mishmashes of phrases should be. Perhaps I should just post positive things.

One of the concerns my psychotherapist friends have about online interaction is that too often it is artificially positive. People post about all the fun things going on, perhaps even exaggerating some of them, but don't talk about the other side of things, the rough days, the boring days, the sad days.

Of course, not everything that is posted online is positive. Sometimes it is an attack on someone else, someone different. The case of the Rutgers student using a webcam to try and embarrass his roommate, and the roommate ultimately committing suicide is a very sad reminder of this.

Part of the ruling was about the invasion of privacy. I think this is something bloggers, and for that matter, others in social media need to be particularly sensitive to. While it does appear that the Rutgers student crossed the line, where is the real line. When is it okay to mention what a friend has been doing? Is it okay to post about a night of heavy drinking and mention the names of those drinking with you? What about simply mentioning that you went to a restaurant, and mention the names of the friends? How about if they came over to your place? How is this further complicated if you have kids? What can you say about your kids friends?

Personally, I tend to be fairly open about what is going on in my blog posts except where there is a clear need to keep something private, but not all my friends are that way.

So, how do you determine what all the news that's fit to blog, or tweet or post on Facebook is?

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Towards a Hermeneutics of Online Social Media

This afternoon, I returned to INTRODUCTION TO THEORY OF LITERATURE. I've been moving very slowly through it and am only on the third lecture. This lecture is about hermeneutics. Other than briefly reading a little Heidegger and Gadamer, and watching part of the lecture, my knowledge of hermeneutics limited, so, if I go astray, I apologize, and if you're looking for an introduction to hermeneutics, I'd suggest you look elsewhere.

Put simply, hermeneutics is the study of the interpretation of written texts. Texts have always been interpreted, in one way or another. Yet for that study was not rigorously or systematically pursued, until it really mattered what the interpretation said. So, hermeneutics became important in religion during the Protestant reformation. Perhaps it has always been important for law, and as it gained importance in other areas, the hermeneutics of literature became important.

So, does a hermeneutics of online social media make sense? At first blush, perhaps not. Does your interpretation of my latest tweet really make a difference? Yet if you look a little more deeply, it may make quite a bit of difference. Social media is being brought into the courtrooms, particularly in family law cases. The interpretation of these social media messages may be very important. Likewise, as news and politics is increasingly being distributed via social media, the interpretation of those messages may be especially important.

Yet on my initial search, I'm not finding much of anyone writing about hermeneutics of online social media. Perhaps the closest I've found is Dr. Krista Francis-Poscente's blog, Blogging about Blogging. I've skimmed a few of the posts and it looks like a blog well worth reading.

As I think about it, there are interesting questions about the readers interpretation and relationship to the author, the individual social media entries, the overall collection of social media entries on a particular social media network, as well as all of the social media entries across the universe of social media networks that the author is on. How do we understand these different relationship as we think about a hermeneutics of online social media? What is out there already that I might be missing?

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Exploring Images from Flickr through Empire Avenue to Instagram, Streamzoo and Gimp

People have often told me, I need more images on my blog. Images get people to stop and look, and, if you're lucky, read a little bit. Yet, mostly, I haven't gotten around to it. You see, I love words. I love text. Putting words together has always been easy.

I typically tell people I'm not really a visual sort of person. Yet that's not exactly right. I was in the photography club in junior high school. I had an early fifties vintage Exacta SLR. I would roll my own canisters of black and white film, shoot roll after roll, and then spend hours in the darkroom developing the film and making prints.

Morgan at Amanda's Wedding
I learned some of the tricks back then of over exposing, under exposing, burning in clouds, and so on, but while ability to craft words made it over to the Internet, my photography never has. Now, recently developments online are causing me to consider ramping up my digital image making.

One thing that has gotten me thinking about this is Pinterest. People 'pin' articles on their boards at Pintrest, and this seems to be very image driven. Perhaps, if I want to keep building audience here, I need to have more images with my stories to encourage more pinning.

Then, there is a discussion going on over at Empire Avenue. People have found that being active in photo sharing sites can really boost your performance on Empire Avenue. A key focus has been on InstraGram. The problem with InstaGram is that it is limited to iPhone users. So, some people have become more active on Flickr.

One person who has some very interesting images on Flickr is Liz Strauss. I commented that it looked like one of her photographs had been put through and Edward Hopper filter and another through a Soviet Realism filter. It made me think about different filters for different famous painting styles. Can I create a Chiaroscuro filter? How about a Pointillism filter? Perhaps something emulating Picasso's blue period? Maybe I could even create some sort of palimpsest.

InstaGram, Hipstamatic, and the Flickr app for Android have some sort of filters like that, and another site I recently discovered thanks to a friend on Empire Avenue, StreamZoo, has a bunch of interesting filters. Unfortunately, StreamZoo does not seem to have an easy way of posting to Flickr. I couldn't even find a way to do it with IFTTT. So, I'm mostly cross posting my StreamZoo pictures to .

Beyond this, sites like InstaGram have their set of filters you can apply. With something like StreamZoo, you can really do an awful lot, but what if I want to create my own filters?

I've always been an open source sort of guy, so I started looking around for articles that talk about how to do some of this via Gimp. A good starting point is Create Instagram Style Photo Effects with GIMP or Photoshop.

I read through that and started experimenting. It took me a little while to get comfortable with layers, and color curves, but slowly it started to take shape. There is a lot more that can be explored, as well as how to relate this to semiotics. So, who else is doing interesting thing with modifying images? Got any suggestions?

Triberr - Curation or Promotion?

Yesterday, a fellow member of a tribe I'm part of on Triberr posted a message on Twitter saying, "@ahynes1 I notice that you don't approve any of my posts on triberr. Is there a reason for that?" They had sent a similar message to several people in the tribe as well as started a discussion about it on Triberr.

I responded, "The few posts I've seen by you on Triberr did not seem interesting to my audience", to which he replied, "OK I understand. I approve all your stuff whether my audience find it interesting or not. I'll apply the same stadards from now on."

I thanked him for the reply and for changing his approach to tweeting about my blog posts. I don't want people on Triberr tweeting out my posts on a quid pro quo basis. I want them tweeting about my blog posts because they found the blog post interesting and they hope their readers will also find it interesting.

Be a bit of a geek, I like to look at some of the underlying numbers. The person who started this discussion has tweeted about my blog posts several times, but the amount of traffic his tweets have generated have been less than the number of tweets he's posted.

On the other hand, there are some people that have tweeted about my blog posts only about as third as often, but have generated ten times the traffic. Those are the important tweets.

At the same time, if I am more careful about my tweets, my followers on Twitter are more likely to visit the articles I've tweeted about. Even more important, at least to me, is when people Retweet these tweets, or, like them over on Facebook.

When I first joined Triberr, I was very concerned about driving away followers, but by judiciously selecting which posts I highlight, I believe I've done a service to my followers as well as to my fellow tribe members.

When it comes to curation, one of my fellow tribe members is mostly posting indirect links to mainstream stories. Many of them are good links, and I have taken to not approving her posts on Triberr, but instead posting a link to the original story on Twitter and giving her a shout out. In doing this, the Triberr analytics get lost, but it seems like I get a lot of likes on the stories of hers that I've highlighted, so I think everyone is benefiting.

Bottom line: I like Triberr as a tool for finding good articles and curating them. However, I have little use for them in terms of promoting whatever comes across the transom.

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