chapter  10
21 Pages

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Questions: Visualization Techniques for Social Science Discovery in Computational Spaces

WithHOWARD T. WELSER, THOMAS M. LENTO, MARC A. SMITH, ERIC GLEAVE

Visualization has frequently been used in the sciences to illustrate fi ndings of quantitative analysis or succinctly summarize those fi ndings to nontechnical audiences. In this chapter, we focus on the use of visualization to reveal new relationships, develop hypotheses, refi ne classifi cation systems, or otherwise discover new insights about the online social world. We advocate the use of visualization primarily as a strategy of discovery and exploration. To this end, we have developed systems for the graphical exploration of datasets and have drawn on existing tools that enable the mass production of visualizations for comparing patterns across wide ranges of cases and contexts. This approach has often led us to seek other types and sources of data or to generate and adapt additional types of visualizations. The result is a varied toolbox for visualizing dimensions of online social worlds, leading to a faceted set of interlinked images, each capturing a different dimension of the authors, conversation threads, and discussion spaces we have studied.