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CNO Authors: Octavio Pitaluga, Bob Gourley

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CNO: Article

Social Network Analysis Library Released As Open Source

Helps Developers Rapidly Create Experiments And Computer Programs To Understand Emerging Social Networks

In light of the explosion in social networking web sites (MySpace, FaceBook, Xanga) the field of social network analysis (SNA) is hotter now than ever before. A new open source library released (libSNA) helps social scientists and software developers rapidly create experiments and computer programs to understand emerging social networks.

The sale of MySpace.com for $850 million to News Corp underscores the value and importance of social networks. Marketing gurus want to understand how to tap into social networks to maximize sales. Law enforcement officials want to minimize the risks that social networks pose to teens and children. Young adults in Generation Y want to get plugged into these networks. Does anyone really understand social networks?

"I created libSNA out of necessity" says Washington, DC, based Abe Usher, a well-known information security expert and the developer of libSNA. "During my graduate studies in 2003, I experimented with a number of leading SNA tools. Unfortunately, none of the software I found this was scalable or robust enough to analyze very large (50,000+ person) networks. I became re-interested in social networks in early 2006 but found that there was still a lack of useful tools. I created libSNA as a tool to help social scientists and computer programmers effectively analyze the networks emerging from Web 2.0."

"On-line social networks are facilitating relationships between geographically distributed persons through 'virtual communities' at a staggering rate. The emergence of large-scale virtual communities on MySpace, SecondLife, Flickr and similar sites continues to have an increasingly important influence on life beyond the Internet. With hundreds of millions of participants, on-line social networks are no longer just kid stuff."

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