I recently ran into Aggie Donkar, a former student of mine, now graduated. We got to talking about her Masters paper, which sounded interesting and which I subsequently read. As an aside, I’d just like to say that a very large percentage of our Masters papers sound incredibly interesting, and I only wish I had the time to read them all! Anyway, Aggie’s Masters paper was indeed very interesting, though I had some questions regarding her methodology. But I’m not going to critique the paper here. My point is, one of these methodological questions led me to wonder about something.

In her Masters paper, Aggie looked at the tags used by a small community of del.icio.us users. She started with the community, or actually with a set of URLs, though the URLs were for sites that were pretty much only going to be of interest to a predefined community.

So I wondered, is it possible to identify communities within delicious by looking at who is using overlapping sets of tags? In other words, a community is defined as the set of users who use a specified set of tags. Would there be some “centroid” tag, like Aggie says sga is for her data? Are some tags more prototypical to the community, and some further and further out on the periphery, as Rosch says is the case for the way people actually create categories? Are there boundary object tags, that link communities?

This doesn’t sound too difficult to me, honestly… though I admit I don’t have to tools (intellectual or technological) to do it myself. It sounds to me like pretty straightforward network analysis. Indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me if someone had done this already. Anyone know if this has been done, or anything like it? If not, will someone please do it?