Other technological innovations have aimed to incorporate network elements more directly into the survey experience. Participant aided sociograms are a strategy developed for gathering personal network information via an interactive process of the researcher and participant collectively drawing the participant’s personal network (Hogan, Carrrasco, and Wellman 2007). Network Canvas is an open source software platform for implementing these ideas on a tablet or computer interface (Hogan et al. 2016).
As can be seen in Figure 3.2, this platform allows for an interactive interview experience, which relies on visualization of one’s network as part of the data elicitation process. Nominations appear as labeled nodes in the visualization. There are then separate modules that allow for the entry of attribute data through “drag and drop” identification of categorical variables (selecting from already nominated nodes), or “click and complete” for open-ended questions, and even the tracing of relationships among named alters if that is part of the study design (see the lines drawn into Figure 3.2. This interactive nature provides the potential benefit of a more enjoyable interview experience for respondents both through moving beyond simple question and response format, and through the visual feedback of seeing one’s network displayed on the screen (Eddens and Fagan 2018). These enticements can potentially also counteract some of the more cumbersome elements of network data collection, e.g., those limitations from respondent fatigue (Hogan, Carrrasco, and Wellman 2007).
As an added benefit to the researcher, this process also simultaneously encodes the data in a format that facilitates its analysis, reducing the requirements in the data cleaning stage (Hogan et al. 2016). Beyond these benefits for ego network capabilities, platforms like these also allow for the pre-population of population rosters, making the node linking process more efficient for complete network designs.60