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Growth of a Twitter Graph
Burak Arikan
Project Description:
Burak Arikan is an artist and researcher who focuses on creating networked systems that evolve with the interactions of people and machines. He has also been previously featured in VC. One of his latest pieces has been an experiment with the Twitter API, where he tracked the growth of his Twitter network over a period of 3 weeks. Burak was trying to understand how connections and particular clusters might expand or contract over time.

The first image is a portrait of Burak's Twitter graph on the first week of the experiment, when he was following 80 people. Burak only mapped the interconnections between friends, removing himself from the picture, and then labeled the 6 main clusters: "MIT", "silicon valley", "web programming", "generative art", "Istanbul", and "web business tr (Turkey)". As he explains: "The silicon valley cluster is large and dense compared to others. The MIT cluster is almost like a clique (every person connected to every other). Generative art is quite close to Silicon Valley, mostly bridged through the user neb. Obviously the Turkish web business cluster has many connections to the Silicon Valley, techcrunch being a major bridge here. The web programming cluster is very small, surprisingly it is connected to Silicon Valley only through the user al3x, who works at Twitter".

To test the importance of key bridging users, Burak decided to remove them and see if the graph still hold together. Many of these changes are represented on his map of week 3 (second image) where more bridges and denser clusters are discernible within his network of 158 people.

Apart from a careful analysis of some of the patterns emerging in this experiment, which can be further explored in his blog post, Burak poses an important question worth considering: "Do these people mind about what these diagrams reveal about their privacy, while all the data is public?".

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