Exploring Virtual Communities with the Internet Community Text Analyzer (ICTA)

Exploring Virtual Communities with the Internet Community Text Analyzer (ICTA)

Anatoliy Gruzd (Dalhousie University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-040-2.ch011
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Abstract

The chapter presents a new web-based system called ICTA (http://netlytic.org) for automated analysis and visualization of online conversations in virtual communities. ICTA is designed to help researchers and other interested parties derive wisdom from large datasets. The system does this by offering a set of text mining techniques coupled with useful visualizations. The first part of the chapter describes ICTA’s infrastructure and user interface. The second part discusses two social network discovery procedures used by ICTA with a particular focus on a novel content-based method called name networks. The main advantage of this method is that it can be used to transform even unstructured Internet data into social network data. With the social network data available it is much easier to analyze, and make judgments about, social connections in a virtual community.
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Research on automated analysis and visualization of online conversations can be grouped according to the various types of computer-mediated communication (CMC) technology presently in use. Below is a brief overview of some of the research on the four most popular CMC and online media types: emails, online forums, blogs, and twitter. This review is not meant to be exhaustive; its primary purpose is to provide a general overview of common methods used for analyzing and visualizing online conversations and to give the reader a starting point for further reading. Social networking (SN) websites such as Facebook and MySpace are not reviewed separately since these sites often utilize one or more of the popular CMC types that will be discussed below.

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