Visualizing the Campaign Contributions to Senators in the 110th Congress — The TARP EDITION [Repost from 3/26])

Senators of 110th Congress

This is a repost our previous Senators of the 110th Congress Campaign Finance Visualization. Last week we highlighted one specific element of the graph (i.e. Senator Dodd and the TARP Banks). Now, we wanted to bring the full graph back to the front of the page for your consideration.  Here is the content of the old post with a few small additions….

“As part of our commitment to provide original content, we offer a Computational Legal Studies approach to the study of the current campaign finance environment.  If you click below you can zoom in and read the labels on the institutions and the senators.   The visualization memorializes contributions to the members of the 110th Congress (2007 -2009).  Highlighted in green are the primary recipients of the TARP.

In the post below, we offer detailed documentation of this visualization.  One Important Point the Visualization Algorithm we use does force the red team, blue team separation.  Rather, the behavior of firms and senators produces the separation.

Four Important Principles: (1) Squares (i.e. Institutions) introduce money into the system and Circles (i.e. Senators) receive money  (2) Both Institutions and Senators are sized by dollars contributed or dollars received– Larger = More Money  (3) Senators are colored by Party.  (4) The TARP Banks are colored in Green. “

Algorithmic Community Detection in Networks

Communities in Networks

Community detection in networks is an extremely important part of the broader network science literature. For quite a while, we have meant to highlight the extremely useful review article written by Mason Porter (Oxford) Jukka-Pekka Onnela (Harvard/Oxford) and Peter J Mucha (UNC). Rather than offer our description of the article, we thought it best to highlight commentary on the subject provided by the authors.

For example, in describing the paper over at Harvard’s Complexity and Social Networks Blog Jukka-Pekka Onnela posted the following… “Uncovering the “community” structure of social networks has a long history, but communities play a pivotal role in almost all networks across disciplines. Intuitively, one can think of a network community as consisting of a group of nodes that are relatively densely connected to each other but sparsely connected to other dense groups of nodes. Communities are important because they are thought to have a strong bearing on functional units in many networks. So, for example, communities in social networks can correspond to different social groups, such as family, whereas web pages dealing with a given subject tend to form topical communities.  The concept is simple enough, but it turns out that coming up with precise mathematical definitions and algorithms for community detection is one of the most challenging problems in network science. Recently, a lot of the research in this area has been done using ideas from statistical physics, which has an arsenal of tools and concepts to tackle the problem. Unfortunately (but understandably) relatively few non-physicists like to read statistical physics papers.”

These scholars quote Mark Newman noting “[T]he development of methods for finding communities within networks is a thriving sub-area of the field, with an enormous number of different techniques under development. Methods for understanding what the communities mean after you find them are, by contrast, still quite primitive, and much needs to be done if we are to gain real knowledge from the output of our computer programs.”  They later note “the problem of how to validate and use communities once they are identified is almost completely open.”

Anyway, if you are interested in learning more about this important piece of the network science toolkit … we suggest you read this paper!

Christakis and Fowler in Wired Magazine


Today marks the official release of Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives by Nicholas A. Christakis & James H. Fowler.  There has been some really good publicity for the book including the cover story in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. However, given the crisp visualizations — my favorite is the above article from Wired Magazine.  Click on the visual above to read the article!

Law as a Seamless Web … Poster for WIN Conference @ NYU Stern

Seamless Web Poster

As we mentioned in previous posts, Seadragon is a really cool product. Please note load times may vary depending upon your specific machine configuration as well as the strength of your internet connection. For those not familiar with how to operate it please see below. In our view, the Full Screen is best the way to go ….