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SOCNET  January 2007

SOCNET January 2007

Subject:

Re: Networks and conformity

From:

Ryan Lanham <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Ryan Lanham <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 11 Jan 2007 12:07:14 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (165 lines)

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

In a recent article called "Getting it All Wrong" an English professor
in New Zealand criticizes postmodern criticism in this American Scholar
article.

It is sprawling and redundant, but it makes the point of the frustration
that emerging across academia in the new culture war of
anti-foundationalism versus a pragmatism of sorts.  

http://www.theamericanscholar.org/gettingitallwrong-boyd.html

One person's sketch is another's definition and vice versa.  It is a
problem.  Taken too far, the problem is ignored.  Not taken far enough,
and we are back in the na´ve positivism of the 1980s, or even that of
the 1930s.

One must wonder whether it is worth walking on eggshells?  Another
source of institutional disintegration.  It is impossible to edit.  That
is why electronic publishing without editors is the natural future.
Creates institutional problems with tenure, etc.  

Ryan Lanham  


-----Original Message-----
From: Social Networks Discussion Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
Behalf Of [log in to unmask]
Sent: Thursday, January 11, 2007 11:42 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Networks and conformity

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

Some Interpretations of Ryan's examples below:

-I would say that the capacity of SNA is NOT to 'define' disciplines,
communities, and spaces, but to 'sketch'/ 'portray'/ 'draw'/ 'interpret'
spaces.

- The example of 'clouds' of disciplines is based on the assumption that
cross-citation represents 'interaction' and interconnectivity between
disciplines, when in fact it is interconnectivity of scientists
'sharing' common language and problematic. The interconnectivity of
disciplines is only a 'representation' of interconnectivity of
scientists - reading and writing across journals, referencing across
disciplines, sharing a common understanding of concepts/theories and
problematic. Hence, these are maps of overlap of scientists' knowledge,
and not maps of interconnected disciplines. We can call these maps a
'proxy' to connectivity of disciplines, but not the real thing. They are
an interpretation of possible connectivity between disciplines, which
can be a subject to further interpretations.

- the dynamics of the changes in inter-citation is a map of changes in
'academic practice' for cross-citation, which of course can be
interpreted as changes within and across disciplines, but the latter is
interpretation.

- context analysis should enable us to distil our assumption that we
make in relation to the agency (i.e. academic choices for citation), the
interactions (cross-citations), the effects (i.e. clouds of
disciplines), and our interpretation of these effects (i.e.
inter-disciplinary dynamics).

I think I can make a similar analysis for the rest of the examples, but
I hope this will give some food for thought.

Best wishes
Emanuela
 

-----Original Message-----
From: Social Networks Discussion Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
Behalf Of Ryan Lanham
Sent: 11 January 2007 15:48
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Networks and conformity

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

Loet:

Dear Emanuela, Ryan, and colleagues, 

It seems to me that we all agree that SNA is a strong tool for the
analysis of structure in data, but that the dynamics ("change") require
additional methodologies. The best one can do with SNA is comparative
statics. 

The jump to a cultural narrative as the only alternative is too quickly
made for me. The cultural narrative focuses on the cases which happened
to occur, 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
Theory, Social Networks 13 (1991) 301-345; at
http://users.fmg.uva.nl/lleydesdorff/SoNetworks91/SoNetworks91.pdf

Of course, one also needs substantive theories for the specification of
the mechanisms. Cultural studies can be very helpful from this
perspective. 

Ryan:

Loet, let me run a thought experiment and you tell me if it is SNA or
other methodologies.  

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.  

Ryan Lanham

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