Dynamic Models of Communication in an Online Friendship Network

Foucault Welles, B., Vashevko, A., Bennett, N., and Contractor, N
Communication Methods and Measures
8(4), 223-243
December 9, 2014


In this article, we  argue for the usefulness of relational event network analysis to study online  communication networks. Unlike other network analytic techniques that require  online communication data to be summarized prior to analysis, relational  event network analysis uses un-summarized time-stamped data to track the  dynamic evolution of communication networks. To illustrate, we use relational  event network analysis to analyze the evolution of a communication network  within the virtual world Second Life. Results suggest that there are  different patterns of communication among nonfriends and friends within the  network. Nonfriends tend to communicate with those they have communicated  with in the past, reciprocate communication, and close communication triads.  Friends tend not to communicate with those they have communicated with in the  past, instead preferring to reciprocate communication and close triads. We  discuss implications for the study of online communication and identify  directions for future research using relational event network analysis.

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