Human Centered Analysis and Visualisation Tools for the Blogosphere

  1. 1. Xavier Llorà

    National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) - University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

  2. 2. Noriko Imafuji Yasui

    Industrial and Enterprise System Engineering - University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

  3. 3. Michael Welge

    National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) - University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

  4. 4. David E. Goldberg

    Industrial and Enterprise System Engineering - University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Blogging has become a new and disruptive communication
medium. Blogs have changed the way people and
organizations express, interact, and—quite
unforeseen—exercise influence. David R. Ellis’ film Snakes
on a Plane (2006) starred by Samuel L. Jackson became the
first movie to incorporate materials suggested by bloggers long
before the movie finished filming. A social mass of blog-based
fans influenced the Hollywood creation providing ideas about
plots and scenes that finally made it into the released movie.
The digital nature of the blog media provides access to an
always-expanding corpus of information. It would take more
than a lifetime to read all the available blogs necessary to
answer questions such as what were the more relevant plots
suggested or what key concepts were managed by bloggers in
their ideas. However, human-centered analysis and visualization
techniques may help users navigate such enormous corpus.
This paper presents how human-centered analysis and
visualization techniques help identifying relevant post portions
and visualizing concept relations in the blogosphere—Google
blogs in particular are used for illustrative purposes.
The rest of the paper is structured as follows. Section 2 presents
a brief overview of the techniques and visualizations proposed
to track the blogsphere. We describe in section 3 how such
tools can be applied to track the blogosphere. Finally, we
present some conclusions and further research directions in
section 4.
2 Snakes, Bloggers, and
Tracking the blogosphere requires at least (1) gathering
blog posts and (2) storing them in a structured metadata
store before any analysis and visualization can take place. Blogs
rely on syndication feeds, usually incarnating in the form of
RSS or Atom feed—both based on XML (Miller, 2001;
AtomEnabled, 2006). The first step is to properly process blog
feeds by retrieving, annotating, and storing the posts’ contents
in the feeds for later analysis. Our approach stores the posts in
a RDF-based (Shadbolt, 2006) metadata store􀀀Mulgara
(Gearon, 2006)􀀀waiting to be analyzed. Then, we use the
extracted text as the input of three different analysis and
visualization techniques. It is important to mention here that
our approach is based on statistics instead of more traditional
approaches based on natural language processing—from which
we may benefit in future stages.
2.1 BITS: Getting the relevant terms and excerpts
of a post
BITS (blog induced topic selection) is a ranking algorithm for
words and sentences in a blog. Higher ranked words may be
regarded as main topics used in a blog. Similarly, higher ranked
sentences express how key concepts are used in the posts. BITS
is inspired by HITS (hypertext induced topic selection)
algorithm proposed by Kleinberg (1999). BITS ranking is based
on mutually reinforcing relationship between sentences and
words: important sentences include many important words and
important words are included by many important sentences.
The rankings are obtained by an iterative calculation􀀀further
details can be found elsewhere (Kleinberg, 1999). Each iteration
we update the score of each sentence using the sum of scores
of all the words of the sentence; we also update the score of
words using the sum of scores of all the sentences containing
the word.
This mutually recursive calculation provides two important
outputs: (1) the ranking of relevant words for a blog, and (2)
the ranking of relevant sentences. The ranking of words can be
regarded as a summarization of the topics discussed on a given
blog. On the other hand, we regard the ranking of sentences as
an excerpt extraction technique capable of providing relevant
excerpts of a blog and, hence, a summarization tool. 2.3 ISNP: Modelling posts elements
The text contained in a post can be turned into a n-dimensional
vector of features using text mining techniques (Weiss,
Indurkhya, Zhang, &Damerau, 2006). Each feature is a word
in a blog post once stop words are removed. Each vector entry
represents a frequency measure for the a given word—TFIDF
in our particular case (Weiss, Indurkhya, Zhang, & Damerau,
2006). This simple transformation enables the usage of machine
learning techniques as tools for exploring and understanding
the processed blog posts. ISNP (Identifying Self/Non-self Post)
is an algorithm and visualization technique to create predictive
models of posts on a given blog. ISNP uses the postbased
feature vectors to learn models that describe and predicts what
post belong to a feed. In particular ISNP induce linear models
based on support-vector machines (Vapnik, 1999; Cristianini
& Shawe-Taylor, 2000; Shawe-Taylor &Cristianini, 2004).
Once the models are learned, we can use them to: (1) predict
pertinence to a feed given a blog, (2) compare multiple feeds
to measure degrees of topic overlapping, and (3) visualize the
key elements that identify self in a post.
The proposed visualization based on ISNP results allows the
analyst to quickly distinguish the main topics that characterize
a feed, and also obtain a measure of the existing overlap
between feeds from different posts. The visualization presents
a polar arrangement of the terms that distinguish self and
non-self blog feeds and the strength of each them—see Figure
1. ISNP also provides another visualization of how topics
change as new posts are added to the blogs feed stream by
displaying sliding windows of the TFIDF values across the
sequences of post of a blog—see Figure 2.
2.3 KeyGraph: Visualizing concept relations
When applied to blogs, KeyGraph (Ohsawa, Benson, &
Yachida, 1998) is a chance discovery technique (Ohsawa &
McBurney, 2003) which provide a visual map of the contest of
the posts of a blog feed. A KeyGraph is a graph where nodes
are words on the blog posts and links indicate co-ocurrence of
words in sentences. KeyGraph has been widely used as tools
to support human innovation and creativity in on-line scenarios
(Llor`a, Goldberg, Ohsawa, Matsumura, Washida, Tamura,
Masataka, Welge, Auvil, Searsmith, Ohnishi, & Chao, 2006).
KeyGraph starts computing high-frequency terms and
high-frequency links among them given the sentences of a blog.
Then, relevant low frequency terms (key terms) and links (key
links) are identified. A key terms and key links bridge high
frequency clusters together, flagging interesting transitions
between the concepts described by those clusters. Finally,
ranking high frequency and key terms based on the connectivity
degree allows the KeyGraph to identify keywords.
KeyGraph visualization represents concepts and their relations
as visual maps, favoring humanreflection. Moreover, it provides
a simple exploratory method to evaluate bridges between
concepts, fundamental building blocks of innovation and
creativity. KeyGraphs are usually presented nodes and links
using three colors: grey to identify high frequency terms and
links, red to display key terms and links, and green border nodes
to identify keywords—as shown in Figure 3.
3. Tracking the Google Blog
To illustrate the capabilities of BITS, ISNP, and KeyGraphs
we tracked the Google Blog (<http: //googleblo>) from November 10th to November
14th. A detailed description of the methodology and results is
beyond the scope of this paper and can be found elsewhere
(Llor`a, Yasui, Welge, &Goldberg, 2007). However, we present
some illustrative examples of the blog analysis and visualization
techniques proposed in this paper. Unless noted otherwise, the
results described below present the analysis of the post entitled
“Old world meets new on Google Earth”1
• BITS. The BITS ranking provide the following terms as
relevant: map, earth, historic, explore, old, world, tool, and
cartography. The more relevant and descriptive sentence
of the post was: “I was able to explore and fly around the
old maps and use the transparency slider to compare the
old world and the new; as I did this, I thought to myself that
this is the perfect marriage of historic cartographic
masterpieces with the innovative contemporary software
tools of Google.” After reading the complete post􀀀not
reproduced due to its length􀀀it became clear that the terms
provided by BITS were an accurate description of the topics
discussed in the post. Moreover, the extracted excerpts by
BITS acted as a relevant summary of the posts in the blog.
• ISNP. ISNP was used to learn models that uniquely identify
posts. The linear model based on support-vector machines
was able to accurately distinguish between the ten post of
the feed during the period of observation. Moreover, the
visualization of such models—see Figure 1— correctly
identified topic overlapping with two other posts talking
about Google Earth. ISNP also provided a simple
visualization of how term relevance changed through time,
identifying recurrent topics—Figure 2 displays recurrent
topics as wide areas on the accumulated vertical axis graph.
• KeyGraphsFinally, the last analysis and visualization
tool􀀀KeyGraph􀀀provided a clear map of the concepts
managed in the overlapping posts “Old world meets new
on Google Earth” and “Know where you are”2, as well as
their bridging relations􀀀see Figure 3. KeyGraph clearly
visualize the two main discourse clusters provided by the overlapping posts, and also made explicit the connection
between them.
4. Conclusions and Further Work
This paper has presented how human-centered analysis and
visualization techniques used to support innovation and
creativity can also help to identify relevant post portions and
to visualize concept relations in the blogosphere. BITS, ISNP,
and KeyGraphs were introduced and used to analyze the posts
on the Google Blog for illustrative purposes. The proposed
techniques showed how humancentered techniques can easily
assist tracking the blogosphere for relevant information,
concepts, and relations, filtering the amount of information that
the analyst need to review by providing meaningful summaries
and visualizations.
We would like to thank the Automated Learning Group
at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications
for their friendship and support while hosting this joint
collaboration. This work was sponsored by the Air Force Office
of Scientific Research, Air Force Materiel Command, USAF,
under grant F49620-03-1-0129, and the National Science
Foundation under grant IIS-02-09199. The US Government is
authorized to reproduce and distribute reprints for Government
purposes notwithstanding any copyright notation thereon.
Figure 1: Radial map of the key terms involved in the ISNP models for each
of the posts. Different posts are displayed in different colors. The area provided
by the measure of relevance of the terms provide a qualitative measure of model
overlapping for the different post. Post number 5 corresponds to the analyzed
“Old world meets new on Google Earth”.
Figure 2: ISNP visualization of term dynamics across the different post. Figure 3: Visual map of the concepts involved in the two overlapping posts
“Old world meets new on Google Earth” and “Know where you are”.
KeyGraph clearly visualize the two main discourse clusters provided by the
overlapping post, and also makes explicit the connection between them.
The views and conclusions contained herein are those of
the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily
representing the official policies or endorsements, either
expressed or implied, of the Air Force Office of Scientific
Research, the Technology Research, Education, and
Commercialization Center, the Office of Naval Research, the
National Science Foundation, or the U.S. Government.
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Conference Info


ADHO - 2007

Hosted at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, United States

June 2, 2007 - June 8, 2007

106 works by 213 authors indexed

Series: ADHO (2)

Organizers: ADHO

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None