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Posts Tagged ‘ravelry’

What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you hear the words “Social Network”? I think of Facebook (due to the movie title perhaps), I also think of Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc. I think of them even though I know these online social networking services are only applications of a much wider concept which considers any social structure made of individuals which are connected to each other. Social networks also exist in social settings such us our work, our group of friends and even within the members of our gym.

Historically we have never had thorough records of our own -or any- social networks. Although the gym is likely to have a record of all its members, the connections between members, such as common classes and preferred machines, are not necessarily recorded and therefore cannot be used to make decisions. We don’t even have data on far more interesting and analysis-worthy social networks like the ones describing the intricate relations between members of drug cartels or terrorist groups.

What makes Facebook et al. so neat is that we, the users, in our effort to exist and connect on cyberspace, create a huge amount of connectivity data that can be visualized and measured. Imagine this: every time you set up a profile you create a node that represents yourself, after that everything we do can be translated into links between nodes. Direct links are made when we connect to people (friends/circles/followers) but also indirect links are made through the things we like/+1/retweet, the places connect from and the words we say.

The business models behind these massive social networking sites rely on math models that analyze and use the data provided by each user. These models are able to place us into groups by looking at data entries such as our location, our ‘likes’ and even, through text analytics, our posts. They are able to measure how close or far away we are from other nodes in the network and are capable of telling us who we should connect to, decide which ads are of interest to us and show us which job posting we should apply for. It is clear that these major networking sites have found a way to use and profit from analytics.

Now let me tell you about my favorite social networking site: Ravelry (sorry Twitter/Facebook people!). Ravelry is an online community for yarn lovers. Users set up a profile, connect with friends and are able to upload info on every project they have worked on or are planning to start, on every needle they own and on every yarn skein in their stash. Additionally, within every project  users can rate the pattern and yarn used, enter information such start and end date, size made and the level of happiness with the result of the project. All of these entries create very rich database of projects and patterns, which is available to all users and can be explored through a search engine with thorough filtering capabilities. The beauty of this social network is that users are connected to each other not only through their friends and groups, but also through the yarns and patterns they work. Also, given the visibility of the data, crafters can use this social network to make decisions like what projects to start, what yarns to use and what modifications to make, all based on other peoples entries.

As cool as Revelry already is, I believe smaller and more focused social networking sites like this one, could benefit from advance Analytics, especially considering that a lot of the rich information that is being collected could be further analyzed and better displayed to deliver even more value to users. The very visible and vast amount of data available on this social network allows me to dream that someday we will have more numbers and analytics surrounding the world of crafts.

Read a great article on Ravelry by Slate here. Also, if you have an account, befriend me on Ravelry, I am MarianelaP

NOTE: I apologize for the lack of editing on this post. I was trying to write fast enough to be able submit this post for the July INFORMS Blog challenge. I promise to put more work into future posts.

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