Welcome to the Data Den. Sit back, relax, and enjoy as we deliver
regular servings of data deliciousness. We're hoping to increase
transparency, demonstrate ways of displaying data, encourage action
based on the data set, and improve access to information for our members
and decision-makers. This month, we're looking at AEA's twitter network and the use of NodeXL for social network analysis.
You may not even have known that AEA is on twitter, but we may be found @aeaweb. Twitter accounts are referenced by the '@' sign followed by the username for the account. If you aren't on twitter, go ahead and click through on the username links in this message - you won't be signed up for anything, but will get a feeling for the type of content shared. @aeaweb has over 1500 followers and regularly shares information about evaluation resources and discussions from multiple sources, funding opportunities primarily from the US federal sector, and updates about AEA programs and services. If you subscribe to AEA's weekly Headlines and Resources list, or to our listserv EVALTALK, you have seen a cleaned up version of AEA's twitter postings, collected and shared each Sunday.
In their native form, on twitter, most posts include hashtags. Hashtags are a sort of embedded keyword search so that those with a common interest may find one another and discuss common topics. Those discussing evaluation, usually use "#eval." Examining the network of users of that hashtag can help us to understand better the actors within that social network.
The network map below shows the connections among the users of the #eval hashtag over a one week period in February. The vertices, or points of intersection where you see little icons, each represent someone with a twitter account and are sized by the number of followers - the larger the size, the more people following the person. The edges, or connections, show relationships among the users. AEA is at the heart of this network, represented by the AEA logo icon, but there are lots of other key actors and I have highlighted a few. To the left of AEA you can find the World Bank's Independent Evaluation Group @WorldBank_IEG, a regular contributor to the discussion in multiple languages. Just below AEA, you'll find Pablo Rodriguez @txtPablo who focuses on development and complexity from Argentina and AEA member Katherine Dawes @KD_eval who works at the US Environmental Protection Agency. While both have fewer followers than AEA or the IEG, they are core influencers in the network, at the heart of sharing and discussions. Further afield, we find AEA members Tom Kelly @tomeval from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and John Nash @jnash who focuses on design, technology, and innovation (and evaluation!). Tom and John both have large followerships of their own and multiple relationships within circles that cross boundaries.
This network map was created using NodeXL, a free add on to Microsoft Excel. We're using NodeXl to help us track changes in our network over time and to identify key colleagues influencing that network. We'd like to thank Marc Smith @Marc_Smith from the Social Media Research Foundation for his assistance in creating and interpreting the map.
Want to learn more? AEA members Johanna Morariu @j_morariu Shelly Engelman, and Tom McKlin have recently talked about their use of NodeXL on aea365, and AEA's Social Network Analysis TIG explores a range of SNA issues, tools, and uses.
Frequently Asked Questions
What am I looking at? This is a network map created in NodeXL, a free add on to Microsoft Excel.