Friday, January 3, 2014

Visualizing a network of good men

Summary of study:

Network of good men was created as a side project while taking a course on social network analysis on coursera wherein use was made of an open source package called gephi. The data for the image was collected by me in an excel sheet and is also made available for your use and replication.The main aim of this project was to study the linkages in inspirations and influences of good men in a society. It is hard to define what is good and what is bad as everythiung depends on an individuals perceptions.

Data Collection:

Data for the study was collected using Wikipedia. In order to collect the data i started with Nelson Mandela, Castro, Gandhi, Karl Marx etc. I would go their individual page on wikipedia and search for the word "Influence" and copy the names that would follow after the word. I would then go these influences and search for the word again. The list would thus grow. For e.g.Nelson Mandela was influenced by Gandhi, Marx etc. I would then go to the wiki page for Marx and see who influenced Marx. It does not matter if the influence was from a school teacher, tailor or a famous philosopher. The idea is to study the interlinkages. I have ignored cases where influence came from a school of thought such as Romanticism. I created a list of such influences, note that i have ignored cases Marx would have influenced some one else. I wanted to see who influenced these men to come up with such a path breaking thought process.

Data Processing:

I created two excel sheets one with labels and second one that showed connections. Hence you come down to a file with source and target. The first file is called a file for NODES and the second file is a file for EDGES to be used in the GEPHI package. It is very easy to learn gephi.


In gephi you will need two csv files as mentioned above. once the data is imported to gephi, i have made use of Modularity for partition and betweenness centrality for ranking.I stopped when i reached 50 rows but if the reader is interested he/she can keep on adding to the list.


We find some interesting points:

1) Karl Marx has influenced majority of revolutionaries in the world.

2)all the men on the outer edge have not been influenced and you will observe that these are the men that have greatly influenced society and have been called father of  a particular school of thought. Adam smith, kant, sun tzu, Plato, Henry salt to name a few have all contributed by influencing other great thinkers but they themselves have not been influenced by any thinker/philosopher. These are the individuals that have no match for the word influence in WIKI. It could be possible that some of them would have been influenced but since i was only using WIKIPEDIA as my data source i relied on information available on WIKI.


  1. This is a really interesting analysis. Do you have links for the code/data?

  2. Hi Scott,

    I use gephi to generate the plot hence i do not have the code. Gephi is a open source tool for generating network plots. I will try to dig for the data and send it over.