Tapping into the wisdom of the crowd: Social network analysis software tools on Wikipedia

(I posted this on the Netgov blog and also on the Socnet list server earlier this weekend).

Together with Jana Diesner, CMU, and Matthias Meyer, WHU, I have started to collect information on social network analysis software packages and libraries.
In order to be able to make a selection from a larger pool of tools, we searched the literature and the Web for archives of tools that are widely accepted. Our goal here was to compile a systematic and (to an extent) exhaustive list of tools along with their main features, application areas and possibilities for interoperability across tools. We failed in this effort.

Clearly, there is a plethora of listings of some of the tools according to more or less explicitly stated categorization or selection criteria out there (e.g. INSNA and the chapter by Huisman and Duijn (2005) on Software for Social Network Analysis).

However, none of these lists seemed complete or up-to-date to us. We noticed that compiling our own list leads to the exact same problems, and we think we are not the only ones who went through this process. We thought this might be a good case for putting the wisdom of crowd idea into action in the social networks community. Our rationale here is that no single Web editor or researcher needs to carry the burden of building and/or maintaining such a collection, but collectively this goal can be achieved with very little individual effort.
Wikipedia has an elaborated site on Social networks (the Social network analysis site is automatically redirected there). We started to expand the network analytic section by adding a table – which was moved by the community within a day to a new page now called Social Network Analysis Software that allows everyone to add a tool along with a URL, short description, unique feature, platform it runs on, and price.

We hereby invite the social network community members to add their tools and/ or to edit/ fill some of the cells in the table. Note, the present structure of the table is a suggestion, and can be modified by anyone. Potentially, this table and the references associated with it might grow -in this case we might move the table to a new page that will be linked from the current page. If you have trouble working with the Wikipedia Table you can also send your information to Jana and we will integrate it into Wikipedia. We are looking forward to the collective results!

Ines Mergel
Jana Diesner
Matthias Meyer

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About Ines Mergel

I am Full Professor of Public Administration at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at University of Konstanz, Germany. Previously, I served as Assistant and then Associate Professor (with tenure) at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, NY. In my research, I focus on informal social networks in the public sector and the adoption and diffusion of digital service innovations in government organizations. I teach classes on social media management, digital government, public management, and social network analysis.

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