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Internet relay chat is a system that allows groups of people to collaborate and chat from anywhere in the world. Clearly defined by several RFC documents, it is arguably the most standard real-time chat system currently in use. This work describes a method of inferring the social network of a group of IRC users in a channel. An IRC bot is used to monitor a channel and perform a heuristic analysis of events to create a mathematical approximation of the social network. From this, the bot can produce a visualization of the inferred social network on demand. These visualizations reveal the structure of the social network, highlighting connectivity, clustering and strengths of relationships between users. Animated output allows viewers to see the evolution of the social network over time. Some novel ideas for future work are discussed, showing other useful applications of this system.
Date of Conference: 14-16 July 2004