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SOCNET  October 2006

SOCNET October 2006

Subject:

[Fwd: Re: The hype goes on: MySpace & Business]

From:

Don Steiny <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Don Steiny <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 8 Oct 2006 10:43:57 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (214 lines)

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

Moses,

	I think we are in the process of seeing the social construction of
meaning.  The other day, I suggested to Mark Granovetter, that I would
call our networks "human networks."  He said that I should educate, and
that the other was a fad.  He pointed out that we could date our use of
social networks back to at least Bott's book: Family and Social Networks.

	I do not begrudge MySpace profit, they took a lot of risk to create
what they did and people like it.   Just think of lay definitions of
meaning, culture and so on and realize that there are always gradations
of usages.  Academics can do things that do not have direct application
to people's day to day life.  Businesspeople do not have that luxury.

	As you know, I spend a lot of time doing various kinds of outreach
about social networks.  Lately, I do not use the term "social network"
in the titles because of the chance of confusion.  I have had the
experience of people coming to one of my talks and at the end coming up
to me and saying "you did not mention social networks at all.  You
academic types should change the name because of the confusion."

	You also know how optimistic I am and I find that taking the view that
"problems are opportunities is disguise" has lead me to thinking more
about not getting to hung up in the terminology.  After all, as White
says: “Networks are phenomenological realities as well as measurement
constructs."  I almost (but not quite) adopt the logical positivist view
that any sentence that describes a psychological thing can be translated
into another sentence that describes the same thing.

	What I have started doing is initially using more familiar terms like
"connector."   Talking about how we are influenced by those around us
who in turn influence us and that networks are a good way of describing
this.  Since we are not just talking about the flow of electrons, the
term "social network" was adopted long ago.  I explain the difference
between "social networking software" and "social networks."

	When you think about it, even before LinkedIn and so on if you talked
about social networks with some people they would assume you were
talking about going to parties and networking.  It is an ongoing issue.

	You and our SNA colleagues are doing awesome work and time will out it.
 There is no point in troubling deaf heaven with our bootless cries.

> *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****
> 
> Dear Don,
> 
> Since it was me who posed the question on first place, I would like us
> to tackle excactly this issue: As you seem to accept in your previous
> e-mail, why are there such distant interpretations or meanings (as
> you're saying) on social networks among the community of sociologists,
> mathematicians etc. working on social networks analysis and the
> community of other practitioners like the architects of MySpace? And
> why cannot the business community judge what is what, given that at
> the moment the substantive "profit" from MySpace type of activities is
> contested by many pundits in the field? My personal concern lies of
> course far away from any financial considerations. As a member of the
> scientific community, I care more about another form of symbolic
> value: the "paradigm" of social networks in these two activities. From
> this point of view, I'm wondering: If these two paradigms are so
> incompatible (or, better said, incommensurable), then what is exactly
> that ourselves in the social network community cannot see in the
> meanings or values impelled in the other side? We keep on building our
> models, methods, analyses etc. over the old social bobdings which are
> inacted in the "real" reality we're living. Is there a single
> motivating idea that social network analysts have ever borrowed from
> "Their" Space (because it's not certainly "My" Space). Then what's
> "their" value for SNA? What is SNA gaining from the naive
> appropriation of social networks "they" are doing in "Their" Spaces?
> Perhaps, social network analysts could help them and I appreciate,
> Don, your efforts in this respect as well as the efforts of Harald and
> his company FAS. But is there really any evidence of any "learning"
> between the two communities? Perhaps Stan and Andrew Cleary from the
> VisiblePath Corp. might be able to give us a hint. I understand that
> Visible Path has nothing in common with MySpace (and they're not
> receiving similar publicity, of course) but perhaps they know
> something more.
> 
> Regards,
> 
> --Moses
> 
> 
> 
> On 10/8/06, Don Steiny <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****
>>
>> All.
>>
>>         Me Clupa.  Visible Path, a social networking site, has Stan
>> Wasserman
>> as it's chief scientist, who is one of the most influential network
>> analysts.  Spoke was doing it, I had heard they had pulled back on it,
>> but Stan informs me that they are still doing it.   Stan also said that
>> he knows that some of the other sites are doing SNA.   So my "as far as
>> I know" was not far enough, and I dropped bits because I knew of Stan's
>> work.
>>
>>         Even the Economist calls databases of relations between email
>> addresses
>> and profiles "social networks."  Most people have only heard the term in
>> that context.  It is in indication that we have work to do to get out
>> the word about what we do and what is possible.
>>
>> -Don
>> > *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****
>> >
>> > Nick,
>> >
>> >       I have long discussions with the founder of LinkedIn about social
>> > networks.  He does NOT do any social network analysis and as far as I
>> > know, none of the "social networking" sites do.  He is a very nice guy
>> > with a advanced degree in philosophy.
>> >
>> >       I don't blame business for the term being usurped.  Lot's of
>> things
>> > have multiple meanings.  I sometimes get frustrated because I have to
>> > reexplain what I mean over and over; but I get frustrated with some in
>> > the social network community as well because I find their interests too
>> > narrow.  For instance, the type of segmentary opposition you mention is
>> > widely discussed in the network literature.
>> >
>> >       It is not what I would consider to be network thinking to
>> define groups
>> > by attributes.  It seems to me that once you have labeled a group
>> > "stupid and short sighted" it becomes something it reasonable to safely
>> > ignore.  You would not drill down to find gems like FAS Research, a
>> > business dedicated to using network analysis to help the world function
>> > better and much loved contributors to INSNA.
>> >
>> >       If you think about it, you have answered your own questions.
>> >
>> > -Don
>> >
>> >
>> >> *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****
>> >>
>> >> On 10/7/06, Moses Boudourides <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> >>> *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****
>> >>>
>> >>> I'm just wondering: is this a mere naiveté or why do people around
>> >>> business tend to  identify social networks with gimmicks like
>> MySpace?
>> >>> What do they see that sociologists cannot understand?  Your cues will
>> >>> be appreciated.
>> >>>
>> >>> --Moses
>> >>>
>> >>> [snip long articles]
>> >> What sickens me is that the focus of these business-perspective
>> >> articles is how these sites are a new way to make money by profiling
>> >> users or using network effects. This perspective can never work! It is
>> >> precisely this perspective of exploitation that people naturally
>> >> resist, and the very same network effects will quickly clamp down on
>> >> any such perceived threat. Perhaps it will create success in some
>> >> early cases when it's still cool, like alternate-reality-games which
>> >> are just now getting to be recognized the critical amount of people
>> >> who will make it not novel enough to work anymore, but that doesn't
>> >> work in general. Stupid, short-sighted business people.
>> >> (p.s.: something like Snakes on a Plane will always work because the
>> >> reason it was popular was because the intanetz caught on to the silly
>> >> title and soon after the fact that the creators were going to deliver
>> >> exactly what was expected from the title, and especially that Samuel L
>> >> Jackson was "cool" and accepted as a sort of honourary member of the
>> >> intanetz, if that makes any sort of sense at all)
>> >>
>> >> I think that perhaps if business people associate
>> >> MySpace=={blogs+music+video+shiny icons+customization+profiles}==$$
>> >> it's because all they read are stupid uninformed articles like these.
>> >> But I don't know enough business people personally to say if that's
>> >> true or not.
>> >>
>> >> Here's a sociological question for someone to study, then: what's the
>> >> difference in attitude between {business,math,arts,nonacademic}-types,
>> >> and why?
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> -Nick
>> >>
>> >> _____________________________________________________________________
>> >> SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social
>> >> network researchers (http://www.insna.org). To unsubscribe, send
>> >> an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line
>> >> UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message.
>> >>
>> >
>> > _____________________________________________________________________
>> > SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social
>> > network researchers (http://www.insna.org). To unsubscribe, send
>> > an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line
>> > UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message.
>> >
>>
>> _____________________________________________________________________
>> SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social
>> network researchers (http://www.insna.org). To unsubscribe, send
>> an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line
>> UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message.
>>
> 
> _____________________________________________________________________
> SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social
> network researchers (http://www.insna.org). To unsubscribe, send
> an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line
> UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message.
> 

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