Martin Saveski

PhD Student, MIT Media Lab

msaveski [AT]

Human Atlas

A Tool for Mapping Social Networks

Most social network analyses focus on online social networks. While these networks encode important aspects of our lives, they fail to capture many real-world connections. Most of these connections are, in fact, public and known to the members of the community. Mapping them is a task very suitable for crowdsourcing: it is easily broken down in many simple and independent subtasks. Due to the nature of social networks—presence of highly connected nodes and tightly knit groups—if we allow users to map their immediate connections and the connections between them, we will need few participants to map most connections within a community. To this end, we built the Human Atlas, a web-based tool for mapping social networks. To test it, we partially mapped the social network of the MIT Media Lab. We ran a user study and invited members of the community to use the tool. In 4.6 man-hours, 22 participants mapped 984 connections within the Lab, demonstrating the potential of the tool.

Read the full paper.