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Mining the Social Web by Matthew A. Russell

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Chapter 6. LinkedIn: Clustering Your Professional Network for Fun (and Profit?)

This chapter introduces techniques and considerations for mining the troves of data tucked away at LinkedIn, a popular and powerful social networking site focused on professional and business relationships. You’re highly encouraged to build up a professional LinkedIn network as you follow along with this chapter, but even if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you can still apply many of the techniques we’ll explore to other domains that provide a means of exporting information similar to that you’d find in an address book. Although LinkedIn may initially seem like any other social network, the data its API provides is inherently of a different nature. Generally speaking, people who care enough to join LinkedIn are interested in the business opportunities that it provides and want their profiles to look as stellar as possible—which means ensuring that they provide ample details of a fairly personal nature conveying important business relationships, job details, etc.

Given the somewhat sensitive nature of the data, the API is somewhat different than many of the others we’ve looked at in this book. For example, while you can generally access all of the interesting details about your contacts’ educational histories, previous work positions, etc., you cannot determine whether two arbitrary people are “connected,” and the absence of such an API method is not accidental—this decision was made because the management ...

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