CommAID: Visual Analytics for Communication Analysis through Interactive Dynamics Modeling

by   Maximilian T. Fischer, et al.

Communication consists of both meta-information as well as content. Currently, the automated analysis of such data often focuses either on the network aspects via social network analysis or on the content, utilizing methods from text-mining. However, the first category of approaches does not leverage the rich content information, while the latter ignores the conversation environment and the temporal evolution, as evident in the meta-information. In contradiction to communication research, which stresses the importance of a holistic approach, both aspects are rarely applied simultaneously, and consequently, their combination has not yet received enough attention in automated analysis systems. In this work, we aim to address this challenge by discussing the difficulties and design decisions of such a path as well as contribute CommAID, a blueprint for a holistic strategy to communication analysis. It features an integrated visual analytics design to analyze communication networks through dynamics modeling, semantic pattern retrieval, and a user-adaptable and problem-specific machine learning-based retrieval system. An interactive multi-level matrix-based visualization facilitates a focused analysis of both network and content using inline visuals supporting cross-checks and reducing context switches. We evaluate our approach in both a case study and through formative evaluation with eight law enforcement experts using a real-world communication corpus. Results show that our solution surpasses existing techniques in terms of integration level and applicability. With this contribution, we aim to pave the path for a more holistic approach to communication analysis.


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