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I wanted to make sure I'm not missing any important bodies of work in
the area that my work is concerned with:
I am interested in building and analyzing accurate models of the
real-world social network from copious amounts of electronic
communication data (mostly email at this point, with plans to expand to
instant messaging and/or phone data).
What I have found is that given a network of relationships between
people, the tools of SNA are well formed and mature for analyzing that
network, and I am happy with the state of the art.
What I have had more trouble finding is help in more accurately
*characterizing each relationship*. I have seen models that refer to,
for example, the "strength" of a relationship, but I have real trouble
deciphering what that even *means*: do people in a strong relationship
"like each other"? Do they trust each other? Will they do favors for
each other? Or does it just mean that they are "familiar" with each
other? And, are these directional quantities, or unidirectional
qualities? Is it really the case that both people in a relationship like
each other the same amount, or shouldn't this be a directional notion?
It seems obvious that relationships are far too complex to be
characterized by a single scalar. Is there research out there that has
tried to address characterizing relationships more accurately and in
more dimensions: 1) at all, and/or 2) from electronic communication
data? I'm not even sure if this is research that would live in the SNA
community so much as other fields like psychiatry or sociology; otoh,
one thing I have learned about the SNA community is that it crosses
many, many more traditional departments.
Dr Andrew J. Cleary
Director of Algorithms R&D
Visible Path Corporation
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