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SOCNET  November 2005

SOCNET November 2005

Subject:

Re: Question about feasibility of SNA and the usefulness

From:

"Scott E. Clair" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Scott E. Clair

Date:

Thu, 17 Nov 2005 15:17:20 -0600

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*****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****

Malcolm - I would go with your sociological groups explanation which I think is much more than just an Ok answer.  For example, I recently mapped out the cross publications among a group of researchers at a research institute.  Simply looking at that graph gave me a very quick and easy way of determining which groups of the department worked togeter and who the bridge people were.  Both of which have very real implications day to day.  I don't know how easy or accurate this information would have been to obtain thru other methods.



        -----Original Message-----
        From: Social Networks Discussion Forum on behalf of Edwards, Malcolm
        Sent: Thu 11/17/2005 11:14 AM
        To: [log in to unmask]
        Cc:
        Subject: Question about feasibility of SNA and the usefulness



        *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****

        Dear List,

        While I am not interested in apologetics for SNA,
        I have a friend who raised with me an interesting observation.  I would
        welcome responses from people who truly are expert in this area about
        it, because I don't have the sufficient background to respond in an
        informed manner.

        I had forwarded to my friend the e-mail about citations.  My friend
        works in an academic setting more or less, and I thought he'd be
        interested.  Here was his observation.

        "I view this new-found joy of mapping relationships as having two
        sources. First, computing power is cheaper so it is easier to set up a
        search of text for key words, such as names, and it is easier to
        generate a diagram representing the results.

        "Second, the internet has so dramatically reduced the cost of
        disseminating text that society is inundated with information, but is
        struggling to learn to distinguish knowledge from information. Thus,
        these diagrams are cheaper then ever to produce and may offer an avenue
        of making sense of the vast amounts of information available to us.
        However, what remains to be proven to me, is which of these exercises is
        really useful. That they are feasible is not enough. That they discuss
        an important topic is not enough. That they use a complicated formula to
        judge their lines and connectors is not enough. What knowledge does each
        one add?"


        Please note that my friend is not being dismissive or bellicose. He is
        one of those people who never trust a number thrust at him, and he'll
        scrutinize any formula and test any assumption.

        Can anyone suggest examples to me of what he is looking for?

        I was going to suggest strides made in criminal analysis that can't be
        made in other methods.  I was also going to suggest sociological
        understandings of groups, and epidemiology.  But I would like to really
        have a great answer, not just an okay answer.

        -Malcolm



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