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The Orkut story (altho a year old) in the last Socnet digest does point to
the intersection of social network software and social network analysis.
There are a variety of folks working on that, with varying amounts of
network sophistication. Just off the top of my head:
Stan Wasserman is heavily involved with Visible Path, a company which to
its credit is sponsoring a major student award in social network analysis.
Mark Granovetter has been on a board of Spoke.
Microsoft Research has been developing Wallpp. MSR has 2 networkers, altho
neither of whom are directly involved with Wallop: Marc Smith and Danyel
Danah Boyd has been analyzing a lot of social network software.
David Teten is developing a nice book on the subject.
Nosh Contractor, as an academic, has been developing IKNOW for quite a
Steve Whittaker and Bonnie Nardi have been developing ContactMap --
interaction mapping software for quite a while, at various places such as
ATT Labs, HP Labs, and UCIrvine.
NTT Labs had a nifty project, combining interaction mapping with similar
characteristics. I tried to talk them into coming to the Sunbelt some
years ago, but they wanted to keep it in-house.
Every 6 months or so, a Toronto startup person or two drops by to talk
with me about his bright idea. None have gotten funding, though.
(Come to think of it, in 1999 I am almost owned a small percentage of a
California-based company that never got started: vapor stocK?)
In my limited experience (Danah would probably know more), social network
software falls into 2 types: open-ended stuff such as Friendster, Orkut,
and Plaxo (the latter has annoying features) which purport to help you
find friends-of-friends strangers. Or, within-organizational stuff such as
Spoke, which help you find out who knows who knows whom and what within an
organization (I've adapted Nosh Contractor's phrase).
I hope that the Sunbelt will bring together some/all of these folks. And I
am glad that David Teten is doing a book on the subject.
Barry Wellman Professor of Sociology NetLab Director
wellman at chass.utoronto.ca http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman
Centre for Urban & Community Studies University of Toronto
455 Spadina Avenue Toronto Canada M5S 2G8 fax:+1-416-978-7162
To network is to live; to live is to network
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