Social science projects led at médialab usually require collecting large amounts of relational data on the web and on social networks. We therefore often end up analysing said data as networks: friends networks on Facebook, relations between Twitter accounts through retweeting or mentioning, bipartite networks linking media urls and YouTube accounts sharing them in comments, etc. As such, we need to rely on graph theory and social network analysis when doing our research. And one method we love to use when doing so, in addition to typical graph statistics and metrics, is visual network analysis. It is indeed always useful to be able to embrace the whole complexity of a dataset at a single glance, by actually mapping the data on a symbolic two-dimensional space.
To perform visual network analysis, the Gephi desktop app is often a tool of choice. But the lab often develops integrated tools for researchers that work using a dedicated web interface, like Hyphe, our web crawler. In this particular case, one might enjoy exploring graphs directly in the web browser as a convenience, so that you don’t have to download graph files to display in Gephi and suffer the constant back and forth.