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Dear Emanuela, Ryan, and colleagues,
It seems to me that we all agree that SNA is a strong tool for the
of structure in data, but that the dynamics ("change") require
methodologies. The best one can do with SNA is comparative statics.
The jump to a cultural narrative as the only alternative is too quickly
for me. The cultural narrative focuses on the cases which happened to
but not on what might have occurred, i.e., the statistics of the
development. I suggest that we need a calculus for this and information
theory provides us with this apparatus:
The Static and Dynamic Analysis of Network Data Using Information
Social Networks 13 (1991) 301-345; at
Of course, one also needs substantive theories for the specification of
mechanisms. Cultural studies can be very helpful from this perspective.
Loet, let me run a thought experiment and you tell me if it is SNA or
One defines spaces of disciplines by using journals citations over a
given time. That is, this a physics cloud centered here overlapping
with chemistry over there.
One then plots by self-description the network of each annual awarding
of MacArthur Fellowships over time into those same spaces based on word
reference citations to the winner. Could one show a "dynamic" model of
innovation interest as represented by MacArthur recognition--say over 10
years? That is, how innovation is moving into new and different fields?
Same concept with each domain of Nobel prizes inside disciplines.
Couldn't we show with a high degree of dynamics the environmental
movement of networks over time (i.e. dynamics)?
Or closer to my home, what if one plotted the network of building
permits in a city for substantive renovation permits and then used GIS
to show how these waves move again income maps. Wouldn't that be a
dynamic, context-focused SNA of gentrification?
Or let us plot the location of artistic grants from federal sources
divided by population over time. Wouldn't that arguably show a dynamic
network of artistic innovation?
Or in foreign trade, what if we showed production by sector in each
country and trade vectors by sector of each country trading with the US
by a list of commodities over time. Wouldn't that show the impact of
trade on the economy of a nation with dynamic SNA? Couldn't one make
assertions about NAFTA and its impact over time with SNA in such models?
I want to say that the capacity of SNA to define what is a discipline or
a community is its power to define "spaces." By overlaying other graphs
against these spaces, one sees context-specific dynamics without a lot
of words...though I for one would still encourage thick descriptions and
ethnographies--particular in non-text media. I don't claim this is
insightful or that such work is not being done, it is more predictive of
standards going forward.
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