Kevin Lewis, Jason Kaufman, Marco Gonzalez, Andreas Wimmer, and Nicholas Christakis

Social Networks, July 2008


Scholars have long recognized the potential of Internet-based communication technologies for improving network research—potential that, to date, remains largely underexploited. In the first half of this paper, we introduce a new public dataset based on manipulations and embellishments of a popular social network site, We emphasize five distinctive features of this dataset and highlight its advantages and limitations vis-à-vis other kinds of network data. In the second half of this paper, we present descriptive findings from our first wave of data. Subgroups defined by gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status are characterized by distinct network behaviors, and students sharing social relationships as well as demographic traits tend to share a significant number of cultural preferences. These findings exemplify the scientific and pedagogical potential of this new network resource and provide a starting point for future analyses.