The social networks lab is constructed with two goals in mind.
The first is to give the students a theoretical as well as practical encounter with complex systems where interactions between components of the system include an emergence (or system`s state change) phenomena.
The lab is mainly constructed form two parts, a theoretical and a data based parts.
We first part starts from the BOID model of swarm movement, in which the student encounter Netlogo, an agent based simulation platform.
Then basic terms from the field of Network Science are shown, starting from an Agent Based Simulation of a construction of a small world network. The Power Law rule of the “friends” of nodes are shown in the simulations, and the difference between Normal distribution where exists no interaction between agents and Power Law distributions where an interaction exists are explained.
The lab continues with a small model on information spread, that demonstrates the idea of industrial clusters of similar companies.
The second part includes an analysis of a real network in Gephi.
We use a sample network of the Israeli Social Riots which were happening during 2011.
We study the Facebook social graph of the riots’ web pages, and search to understand the theoretical aspects seen in the first part of the lab. Mainly, who is influential, what is the structure of this real network, and what order can be seen in the network.
Overall, the lab is constructed in order to understand the very basic ideas of networks, agent based simulation, and emergence where the system includes interactions between its components.