Masters of Network 4: Networks of Care


Care happens in networks. People take care of each other. They seek advice, medical help and moral support from each other. They exchange knowledge and share resources. They meet, interact, and work together. And, of course, no human can live well if he or she disconnects from the fabric of society at large (in recent times, care also happened in big bureaucracies, but that approach has issues. Here we look for something better).

We think that this ceaseless exchange is collective intelligence at work. Network analysis is a useful tool to understand this process, and perhaps find ways to improve upon it. Thinking in networks is a great way to generate fresh, relevant questions. How do you know your network is going in the right direction? What is a “direction” in this context? Is everyone following the same path? Do people group into sub-communities? What are the focus of these (sub) communities?


We come together to find out how networked humans can better take care of each other.

To do this, we study result-oriented conversations. Conversations are networks: people are its nodes, and the exchanges are its links. It you don’t believe us, click here to explore the Edgeryders conversation network (allow a few seconds for the data to download). But conversations are networks also in another sense: each exchange contains some concepts. Example of concepts useful in care are: well-being, syringe, diabethes, fitness, prosthetics, etc. We can represent concept in a conversation as a network. Concepts themselves are its nodes; two concepts are linked if they are in the same exchange.

Person-to-person conversation networks tell us who is talking to whom. Are there individuals who act as “hubs”? Why? Can we use hubs to improve the process, for example asking them to spread important knowledge?

Concept-to-concept conversation networks tell us how the different concepts connect to each other. Are there surprises? Do apparently unrelated concepts tend to come up in the same exchanges? Anomalies might mean something interesting is going on. In fact, spotting anomalies is how John Snow invented epidemiology in 1854.

The fascinating part is this: by looking at the network, we can extract information that no individual in the network has. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Collective intelligence!


We look at conversation data taken from Edgeryders and build them into a network. We use open source software for network analysis. We then visualize and interrogate the network to see what we can learn. Our final aim is to prototype methodologies for extracting collective intelligent outcomes from conversations.

One great output from the workshop would be to unleash our imagination, and specify design & requirements:

  • What views works best? It'll be useful to build it as a mockup if we do not already have it -- use color pens, paper, clips, cardboard and build it into a mock-up!
  • For what tasks? Do we need to move things around? Pile them up to trigger comparison of things on-the-fly? Lasso an item to trigger some computation? -- use post-it notes, cut and paste pieces of paper, draw arrows to turn tasks into real actions (on a screen!).
  • Using what ingredient (data)? What should we feed the system with to accomplish these analytical tasks? -- write them down, cut & paste, associate them with specific tasks, embed them into views.

The workshop is a unique opportunity to have a design participatory workshop – we want it to be a source of inspiration to design and build the next generation EdgeSense dashboard!

Who should come

Masters of Networks is open to all, and especially friendly to beginners. Patients, network scientists, doctors, hackers and so on all have something to contribute. But in the end we are all experts in this domain. We all give and receive care in the course of our lives, and all humans are expert conversationalists.  There’s an extra bonus for beginners: networks are easy to visualize. And when you visualize them, as we will, they are often beautiful and intuitive.

Trust us. We have done this before (check out the video above).


We have a dataset drawn from a large conversation that took place on the Edgeryders platform in 2014. It consists of 161 posts and 910 comments, authored by 128 different people. All posts and comments have been annotated by a professional ethnographer. This leaves us with an ontology of relevant concepts: we can use it to build the network.

That conversation was not about care. We will need to be clever, and use different data to figure out a methodology to apply to a future conversation about care.

Agenda and challenges

The agenda is simple:

  • We will spend the first hour and a half explaining how the data were formed, harvested and converted into a network. We will explore the network together using a software called Detangler, brainchild of the wonderful @brenoust. Detangler is highly intuitive: we can use it to manipulate network without knowing any network math at all. 
  • Then, we'll hack. We can explore the data in many directions. Depending on how many we are, we can split into groups that look at different things. We see at least three possibilities:

Visualization challenge. Create informative and beautiful visualizations starting from our data. Skills needed: design, dataviz, netviz. Coordinator: @melancon (you can call me Guy)

  • ​Its not only about creativity and beauty, it's about interactivity -- a map seen as a malleable object so you can squirk information out of it.
  • It's also about being able to specify graphical design from the tasks you'd need to conduct on the data and its representation on the screen.
    • How is a node-link view useful? How would you intuitively like to manipulate, filter or change it at will when exploring it?
    • Would you feel you need to synchronize the view with a bar chart on some statistics? A scatterplot to figure out if things correlate?

Interpretation challenge. How many conclusions and hypotheses can we “squeeze” from the data? Skills needed: social research, ethnography, network science. Coordinator: @Noemi?

  • Interpretation is at the core of the process. You play with data, you map it, and iteratively build hypothesis. In the end, you dream you would have provable claims.

Quality challenge. Can we think of simple criteria to filter the data for the highest-quality content only (eg: only posts with a minimum number of comments, or of minimum length)? Does the filtering change the results? Coordination: @Alberto

And more. But we insist that every group has a coordinator, who takes responsibility for driving it, sharing the relevant material (examples: software libraries, notes for participants, pseudo code…). If we only have two coordinators, we’ll only have two groups. If you think you can lead a group, get in touch with us!

Tentative schedule

  • 9h30 - 11h - @Alberto and @melancon (@Hazem @Noemi) give a start by drawing the overall picture, following the famous adagio "A picture is worth a thousand words".
  • 11h - 12h30 Teams give it a first shot
    • The viz team will play a game building their ideal visual dashboard using pen and paper, cardboard -- explaining why these features may turn to be essential when exploring or analyzing network data.
    • The interpretation team output is critical: the directions they will provide has decisive impact on how data will be used, massaged and turned into visual representations.
    • The qualitative team plays a similar role, feeding the intepretation team with high quality content -- their recommendations will make even greater sense if we can link them with paths of interpretation.
  • 12h30 - 14h Feed your brain with proteins and glucids.
  • 14h - 16h Teams go back to work and build a proof-of-concept of the ideas /hypothesis they came up with in the morning session.
    • Cross-fertilization of ideas with the other teams is encouraged. People may wish to change teams to widen their experience and knowledge.
    • Teams prepare a short summary of their findings/conclusions that will be presented during the wrap-up session.
  • 16h - 16h30 Wrap-up. Team presentation, plenary discussion.
Who is facilitating

When it is, where it is and how to participate

Masters of Networks 4: Networks of Care is part of LOTE5. It takes place on Saturday, 27th February 2016 at Brussels Art Factory, SmartBE. Sign up by clicking the "attend button. Leave a comment below to let us know what your skills are, we’ll put them to good use! We particularly need people to help us with the documentation of what is done.

How to prepare

Have a look at Detangler, and play with the map just to get a feeling of what can be done. If you have questions, write them as comments to this post.

What happens next

A project called OpenCare will convene a large-scale conversation about care. The work in OpenCare will make good use of the insights generated during Networks of Care.

Date: 2016-02-27 08:30:00 - 2016-02-27 08:30:00, Europe/Brussels Time.

1 Like

Moved everything here

@melancon, I rewrote your text for outreach purposes. Do change what you don’t like. I also had to move the content to a newly created event for technical reasons.

@markomanka and @Luciascopelliti, please note that I have enrolled you. smiley It will be fun! Please click on the “attend” button. Same goes for @MoE and @dora and whoever is interested. @mstn? @maxlath? @danohu?


Good. Thanks for helping. You have a talent it would take me yet another life to learn :slight_smile:

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Hey :slight_smile:

Funny, I always say the same of you. laugh


hi alberto!

Can I facilitate even if I must leave at 1 pm?


I see your role as helping to shape questions, i.e. map the methodology we’ll be working with onto care in general and OpenCare in particular. smiley

all right

I’m in

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… please click on the “Attend” button. While you are at it, please do the same on the LOTE5 event here. @Rossana_Torri, can you do it too please? I will explain better the rationale for this when we meet in Brussels. smiley


I did it for the LOTE event.

Unfortunatly I have to fly back to Milan on Friday evening…

Lucia will stay for MoN till Sat morning.

“Yes, but what will we DO?”

@melancon, my friend: our text is clear and nicely written, but it is not a work program. I added a tentative agenda section. Please look it up and see if you think it makes sense. If it does, assign yourself as the coordinator of a challenge… or maybe let’s decide to do only one challenge, so we can hack together!

I kind of like the idea of the quality challenge. smiley

Input from all participants welcome! @MoE @dora @Betty_Gorf @jimmytidey (Jimmy, are you coming?)

Need a hand


I was about to edit the text of the event, but I thought I should double-check – I admit I have but no experience in organizing things the way it takes place on

  • I already asked for a list of attendees, thinking I could possibly format the workshop according to the audience.
    • I could probably refine the different challenges accordingly.
  • I thought I should share the data ahead of time for those who wish to have alook at the material we'll be using. I have a set of JSONs, and I also uploaded everything into a Neo4j database. Neo4j is nice because it allows to readily visualize the data without really doing anything special (but install neo4j).
    • Note: the JSONs I have include much more content than what you describe. I guess the few hundreds users and comments you mention were obtained by discarding but items of interest (I see this as being part of the process).


  • The list of attendees is going to be provisional at best. Your main audience is the OC consortium. Several people from the ER community will also attend. Some will be more on the data geek side, like @MoE; others will be from the medical space (I spoke to a woman called Claire at the LOTE5 apéro). We'll have to improvise. My solution to this is: we announce clearly what the tracks will be, and people who come will be attracted by the tracks. 
  • To share the data ahead of time is a great idea. I suggest a GitHub repo. 
  • Take care! The dataset has the whole Edgeryders conversation at the time it was generated, so thousands of posts and well over 10,000 comments. But only those of the Spot The Future projects are coded with semantic information! For the rest, you can draw an Edgesense-style social network, but that's about it. Unless you want to try NLP stuff, which I would advise against because it is a totally different methodological path. 

Coordinator for interpretation challenge

@Noemi, I deliberately put you as coordinator for the interpretation – without asking you first whether you would like to, or even be available! I only did it based on your past experience of previous MoNs. I know you would do a marvelous job.


Flattered but…

Thanks @melancon. The only issue I see is that I have to moderate the European Capitals panel Saturday starting 2PM.

I would also recommend @Hazem for the job, as he is joining us for Lote, has been doing previous work with Edgesense and knows the ER network well enough.

How about teaming up

Thanks @Noemi

How about teaming up with @Hazem in the morning and then leaving (the most fabulous) MoN4 to join your afternoon session?

@Hazem, please let me know whether this suits you.


count me in

sure will be there.

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@Hazem So you are now officially coordinating the interpretation challenge!

Looking forward to meet you at LOTE5.


Network newbie with graphic and statistics background

I am relatively new to networks, but i’m working on a serious project with networks and i have a background in graphic design and in statistics. I can program in R but won’t be able to bring a laptop.

I am particularly interested in the visualisation challenge and looking forward at meeting you all!


@RossellaB Do not forget we all were newbies at some point, and will probably remain newbies on so many topics till the end. I am real happy to count you in.

Looking forward to code in your company :slight_smile:


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Thanks Guy! That is certainly true.