Tinkering with R and Social Network Analysis

My interest in Social Network Analysis (SNA) began when I was studying the Data, Analytics, and Learning MOOC (DALMOOC) through edX a couple of years ago (see my posts from during the course here). During the course it was mentioned that Twitter lends itself to SNA, so I did some fiddling around with analysing the Twitter streams of various library conferences. I used some of the tools that I was introduced to during the DALMOOC, such as Gephi and NodeXL, and managed to produce some graphs. However I put this on the backburner while I focussed on preparing my poster for the EBLIP8 Conference.

Earlier this year, though, I got the urge to start learning more about the R programming language. Although I have absolutely no background in coding or programming (unless you count copying BASIC programs out of a book for my Commodore 128 when I was a kid), I’d heard about the R programming language, and wanted to find out a bit more about it. I came across the free Datacamp course on R and did the first few lessons, but haven’t worked on it for a while now. I started looking around to see if there were any R packages that could do SNA on Twitter data, and I found that there were a few that I could use. There were websites which had some example code which I was able to copy and do some tweaking on (such as this one and this one), and before long I was collecting and analysing my own data.

I still wouldn’t call myself a coder or programmer, but I’m starting to get the hang of using R. It’s pretty easy to use, especially when you’re using code that is freely available and not having to develop your own. In my next post I’ll show some examples of SNA that I prepared based on the tweets sent at the 2016 Medical Library Association conference.

Finally at 400!

Today was the day that we (the geocachers known as Sensible Shoes) finally reached 400 finds. It’s taken us 8 1/2 years to get there, but get there we did. We’ve been saying for the last couple of years that “this is the year we get to 400”, but it hasn’t happened until today.

We were at 395 this morning, and found three more before lunch to get us to 398. All the caches we found were either in or very close to playgrounds, so the boys had a good time too, riding their scooters and playing on the play equipment. We even got to climb “Bluluru”!

Seeing that today was my last day of holidays before returning to work, I thought it would be nice to reach our 400 milestone today. So after lunch we headed out and got the remaining two to get us to 400. The 400th find was near a park that the boys love going to, but unfortunately their favourite piece of play equipment has been fenced off (presumably for repairs), so we had to make do with the flying fox. After a couple of turns each we headed off to celebrate our achievements, and as we were walking to the car the rain began and only got heavier once we were in the car. Perfect timing!

Now that we’ve finally made it to 400, our next goal is to reach 450 by our nine-year cacheversary in May.

So what do the numbers say?

As usual, my final post for #blogjune is going to look at my blog stats for the past month to see if anyone’s actually read any of my posts. The data will come from a couple of sources – the stats plugin on the blog, my web host, and Google Analytics. Hopefully they’ll be pretty similar.

Firstly, the most-viewed post was So what does a health librarian need to know, followed by So what’s changed since #blogjune last year. These were posts from earlier in the month, so I guess it’s not surprising that they’re at the top. It seems that either Wednesday or Thursday was the most popular day for people to visit the blog (depending on which source you use). The various sources also differed on where these visitors were from – one had the top three countries for visitors being Australia, the US and New Zealand, while another listed them as the US, Australia and France, while the final one had Australia, Bangladesh and Germany as the top three.

Continuing the trend from the last couple of years, Firefox was the most popular browser, followed by Chrome, then Internet Explorer. The mobile browser (Android and iOS) percentage has continued to increase – about 6% this year compared to about 4% last year. Also following the trend from last year is a drop in the total number of views for the month compared to June last year.

So that’s it for another year of #blogjune. I’ll probably be back next year, hopefully with a bit more of a plan and focus for what I’m going to write about.

What I got out of #blogjune this year

For me the main theme that came out of this year’s #blogjune was the future of the Australian biblioblogosphere. There were some posts looking back to try and discover the “golden age” of library blogging (Hugh, Kate), and then others trying to figure out what the future may hold for library blogging in Australia (Kate, Stephanie). I don’t really have much to add to these; I agree that there did seem to be period where blogging was more prevalent than it is now, and I think that there is still a place for blogging in the professional discourse of the Australian LIS industry. It looks like the League of Librarians (or some sort of collaborative blogging venture) is ready to go!

Some of the discussion early this month regarding impostor syndrome also hit home for me. I think I was (perhaps still am?) guilty of thinking that because I have a blog I need to be posting about the “big issues” in the profession. I related to Sally’s post where she says:

Maybe I’m just not cut out to write certain types of posts. It’s mostly the strong opinion, kind-of-ranty posts that I struggle with. I don’t really understand why I feel driven to publish them at all, when I find them so difficult. Do I feel like it’s expected, in order to be taken seriously?

Sometimes I do try and tackle the big issues, but never usually in great depth or as a way of starting a conversation – I’m usually responding to someone else’s brilliantly written post on the subject. I toyed briefly with the idea of setting up a separate blog which I would use for “professional” content and leave this one for the personal stuff. But then I thought of a different approach, and it’s one that I’m going to try to stick to from now on. I’m going to try to comment on blogs more often, instead of writing a short post on the topic. Every now and then I might need to write a post if I have a lot to say, but mostly I’ll be keeping the discussion on the original post.

I have found it harder to come up with posts for #blogjune this year than in previous years, but I’ll get there. A lot of the posts were a result of having to write something instead of wanting to write something. Tomorrow’s post will be my usual wrap-up of the statistics for the blog during June. It will be interesting to see how this year compares to previous years.

A night at the drive-in

We’ve just got home after going to the drive-in to see Minions. It was a bit chillier than when we saw The Lego Movie last year, but we were prepared with our parkas, beanies and blankets. Compared to the last time we went, there were certainly less people sitting outside like we were – most of them stayed in their cars. The boys loved the movie (as we’d expected) and I thought it was OK but not great. We had planned to head to the Australian Museum today to take advantage of their “Free for all” weekend, but Tom has been sick the last couple of days, so we decided to take it easy at home instead. I like going to the drive-in – I didn’t go when I was  kid, and it’s nice to take the boys so they can experience it. It’s cheaper than going to the cinema too – it only costs us $25 for the four of us, and we take our own food. I’m sure this won’t be the last time we go there this year.

Getting back into text correcting on Trove

I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve done some text correcting of the digitised newspapers on Trove. It’s been a year since I’ve done any though, and I got back into it with a modest 49 lines today. I thought that my new focus will be on the articles which mention the original Children’s Hospital in Sydney, the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children which was located at Camperdown. We’re celebrating 20 years this year since the hospital moved to Westmead, so I thought it would be timely to work on these articles. I’ve done the articles from the 1960’s (there were only two) and will move backwards until I get to the 1900’s. I’m hoping that these articles won’t be as repetitive as the one’s I was working on before (on Victoria Cross winners), and I can learn a bit about the history of the hospital, too.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the medical literature

As requested by Teresa, the subject for this week’s search for pop culture icons in the medical literature is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It appears that there is a gap in the literature on this topic, as I couldn’t find many articles at all. The ones I did find weren’t strictly medical in their focus, but were from the psychology/sociology/cognitive science fields. The one that deals with Buffy most directly is “Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Xena: Warrior Princess: reception of the texts by a sample of lesbian fans and web site users” (it looks like the article is freely available). The other couple that I thought were most relevant didn’t feature Buffy as the main topic of the paper, but did use the show as part of their methodology. The first one uses scenes from Buffy as part of an experiment on gender recognition. The second mentions Buffy as an example of a TV show from the late 1990’s/early 2000’s which introduced a gay or lesbian character into the cast.

I’ve enjoyed these searches over the last couple of weeks, and I may continue this theme for an occasional Friday post, but probably not a regular basis. I’m always happy to take suggestions for shows/characters/movies to use as a subject.

I’ve got nuthin’

Today is my “I can’t think of anything to write about so my post is about the fact that I won’t be doing a post” post. Tomorrow will be the last in my Friday series of posts looking at pop culture icons in the medical literature, and the subject will be Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I wonder how many references I’ll find.

Done and dusted

I’ve just submitted the final assignment for the Health Librarianship Essentials course that I’ve been studying for the last couple of months. I’ve done OK on the first two, so hopefully I’ll do the same for this one. It was nice to cross that off the to-do list. I think that’s got the study bug out of my system for a while. I found it a bit hard to find the time to study, so I don’t think I’m ready for any further study at the moment. Maybe in a few months I’ll be looking for something to do.

I also renewed my ALIA membership today, so it’s a been a day for getting things done.

Patrons in the driving seat

I mentioned in yesterday’s very brief post that my library has made a decision to go ahead with purchasing some e-books using a patron-driven acquisition (PDA) model. This model is a fairly recent innovation in the e-book market, and it’s one that I really like. Each vendor may have slight variations on it, but the basic concept is this:

1. The library decides on the e-book titles that it wants to offer to its patrons

2. The e-book vendor supplies catalogue records to the library for no charge

3. Patrons can access the e-books via the catalogue

4. After a book has been accessed a certain number of times, the library purchases the e-book

I think this model provides great flexibility for libraries to offer e-books to their patrons. When e-books were first sold to libraries they were usually in packages, so libraries were purchasing a whole bunch of titles which might never get used – we had to guess which titles our patrons would find useful. With the PDA model, however, it is usage which drives the purchase of the books. Some vendors allow the books to be issued on a short-term loan a set number of times (with each loan costing a percentage of the purchase price), with subsequent usage triggering a purchase. It is usually possible to place a price cap on titles which are purchased automatically, with expensive titles having to be approved by library staff. Libraries can also allocate a set amount of money to be used for purchases e.g. $3,000; this can be automatically topped up when funds start to run low (a bit like an e-tag for road tolls or the Opal card in Sydney).

We’re still in the early stages of working with our e-book vendor on setting this up, but I think it’s going to be something that our patrons will appreciate.