“We live in a sea of tweets, posts, blogs, and updates,” as Marc Smith says in describing his upcoming BA Conference session, Charting Collections of Social Media Connections with NodeXL

A sociologist specializing in the social organization of online communities and computer-mediated interaction, Marc is the Chief Social Scientist at Connected Action and co-founded the Social Media Research Foundation, a non-profit devoted to open tools, data, and scholarship related to social media research.

So what’s an organization to do with the bewildering stream of social media comments? Marc says that with better tools – including the free, open NodeXL, which he started while at Microsoft Research – and a few key concepts from the social sciences, the swarm of favorites, comments, tags, likes, ratings, and links can be brought into clearer focus to reveal key people, topics, and sub-communities.

With the NodeXL add-in for Excel in Office 2007 and 2010, creating a social network map becomes as easy as making a pie chart. NodeXL supports the exploration of social media with import features that pull data from Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, web hyperlinks, and personal email indexes.

Check out the cool NodeXL map Marc made of the BA Conference (#passbac) and (#sqlpass) connections on Twitter, and come see how this tool lets non-programmers quickly generate useful network statistics and metrics and create visualizations of network graphs.

 *Maps are updated to February 26, 2013.