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When sketching on a small SNA-style research project concerned with mail
correspondence on a small, local web-community (aka networking site), a
question/dilemma has arisen.
Background: the project intends to to a role-structural analysis of the
internal mail correspondence (valued directional data) on a
web-community that started in July last year. We have full access to all
such correspondence, both technically and legally/ethically, having data
on sender, receiver, and date of 20000+ internal mails sent so far.
However, as the web-community has grown from zero to 1050 users since
its launch last summer, and as it is constantly growing (approx 50 each
month at the moment), thi non-constant number-of-actors is problematic.
Creating a 1050x1050-matrix and using correspondence data since its
genesis would assume, wrongly, that all 1050 current members have been
members from the start. Possible alternatives, as I see them, would be
to only use data for a fairly narrow time-period, let's say from
January-March this year, either using the actors that were members as of
January, or as of March. As we will primarily look at the
role-structure, a third alternative would be to look at more
"time-slices", shorter periods, for instance how the number of role-sets
and their inter- and intra-positional ties looked for each month.
How have others solved this problem, in theory and practice, with an
expanding set of actors? All suggestions are much welcome!
Carl Nordlund, BA, PhD student
Human Ecology Division, Lund university
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