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At 11:21 AM 1/5/2007 -0500, you wrote:
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>At the risk of over posting...let me say this and then be quiet:
>The social is what we decide it is. Solar winds are not. They exist.
There is something different about solar winds and social networks,
but not in an absolute sense. I.e., both exist regardless of what
any of us decide. The difference perhaps is that we have a recursive
link to social networks and can influence them - this is ultimately
true of solar winds also, given sufficient technology and
imagination. So this is a philosophical level of argument and
relates to psychometrics rather than existence. Again, my point is
that whatever processes are occurring exist whether or not we can
observe them. And as we know from other experience, whatever we
observe is affected by what we observe.
>If you parachute into an exotic other tribe with little outside contact,
>say in a rain forest somewhere, you decide what is social in your
>narrative. Meaning is in their minds, but you cannot see it unless you
>become participant--the same might be said of a dolphin or whale, etc.
>How can I decide what is a social network amongst urban African American
>youth? I can't unless I immerse myself. Otherwise I am only describing
>them as I see them...perhaps with profound biases and ignorance even
>while I draw pretty pictures others nod at and accept.
>That is, their social is not your social. The anthropologist's job is
>often to bring these two Others closer together--to align meanings. But
>it does not bring them closer together for you to apply your social to
>their culture. That only reinforces your sense of meaning, and I doubt
>that can be called "science" or even learning.
>Is having a tattoo a social network? Yes, it is for me in my world.
>But for you? Maybe, maybe not. Is it for a various Amazon peoples?
>One of the biggest topics in political and cultural geography is the
>perspective bias of maps--see Edward Soja's work for instance. Maps
>come from deciders--they are models. A map of the planet Mars means
>nothing to a rural Pakistani unless they can interpret it by knowing the
>language, the conventions, the references. These are decided.
>To connect to a computer network, you need to use a given protocol
>suite. You cannot do so otherwise. The computer "decides." Computers
>demand you adopt their ontology to talk with them; they have overbearing
>identities. Humans are usually more forgiving about interacting with
>nebulous ontologies. To say you are modeling the social means you have
>decided what the social is--perhaps because your tools (e.g. Pajek)
>force a certain way of knowing. That is great leap for some of us if
>applied without much reflection.
>If your social network analysis is about your ontology and not that of
>the subject, you are not doing anything but reinforcing your own sense
>of relationships. That is the cultural hegemony I am trying to
>articulate. Meaning is the social. If there is little or no
>meaning--no problem. It is then external--like the phenoms we refer to
>as "solar winds." But it is also unlikely to be "social."
>From: Don Steiny [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
>Sent: Friday, January 05, 2007 10:50 AM
>To: Lanham, Ryan
>Cc: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: Re: Recommender systems
> I don't understand the question of networks having or not having
>meaning. It is like asking: do solar winds have meaning? Does weather
>have meaning? We make maps of these things to see if we can find
>patterns in them that allows to organize our information, communicate
>our findings and make predictions. Geographic maps can be topological
>or political and many other choices and they can be in great detail or
>little detail. The weatherperson can say "today will be sunny," without
>making a general comment on all weather. Cat scans have meaning only
>because they guide the health care practitioners to next steps, just
>like a road map guides us on where to drive.
> I take the "social" in social network to mean "social objects"
>socially constructed things like cities, people and such. There several
>independent groups that came up with their own meanings of "social" and
>it is not that important since computer networks are social networks.
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