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Here are a few:

1.  The probability distribution of the number of connections to a given
node (whether one is talking about people with STDs, scientific
collaboration, earthquakes, fortune 500 company directors, movie
actors,  religious organizations or URLs on the web) seems to have a fat
tail to the right, and some are actually scale free.  The
quasi-universality of this finding seems to go beyond "interesting" and
may provide some basic insights about how groups are organized.

2.  Some people and ideas dominate, and that domination changes over
time.  Visualization and its attendant properties is a surveillance
system for who or what is in charge, and the manner in which such
influence is exercised.

3.  In disease epidemiology, different structures have different
implications for disease transmission.  A lot of energy is currently
being devoted to elucidating those implications and, if successful, will
have provide some fundamental insight into transmission dynamics.

4.  Folks who do this for a living--organizational consultants, for
example--can point to a long experience in helping their clients see
themselves through network visualization and analysis.

5.  And in line with making the opaque transparent, Valdis Krebs and
others have provided this list with network diagrams from the news
media, diagrams that demonstrate to all of us "the tangled web we weave
when first we practice to deceive."

Rich Rothenberg

Edwards, Malcolm wrote:

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>Dear List,
>While I am not interested in apologetics for SNA,
>I have a friend who raised with me an interesting observation.  I would
>welcome responses from people who truly are expert in this area about
>it, because I don't have the sufficient background to respond in an
>informed manner.
>I had forwarded to my friend the e-mail about citations.  My friend
>works in an academic setting more or less, and I thought he'd be
>interested.  Here was his observation.
>"I view this new-found joy of mapping relationships as having two
>sources. First, computing power is cheaper so it is easier to set up a
>search of text for key words, such as names, and it is easier to
>generate a diagram representing the results.
>"Second, the internet has so dramatically reduced the cost of
>disseminating text that society is inundated with information, but is
>struggling to learn to distinguish knowledge from information. Thus,
>these diagrams are cheaper then ever to produce and may offer an avenue
>of making sense of the vast amounts of information available to us.
>However, what remains to be proven to me, is which of these exercises is
>really useful. That they are feasible is not enough. That they discuss
>an important topic is not enough. That they use a complicated formula to
>judge their lines and connectors is not enough. What knowledge does each
>one add?"
>Please note that my friend is not being dismissive or bellicose. He is
>one of those people who never trust a number thrust at him, and he'll
>scrutinize any formula and test any assumption.
>Can anyone suggest examples to me of what he is looking for?
>I was going to suggest strides made in criminal analysis that can't be
>made in other methods.  I was also going to suggest sociological
>understandings of groups, and epidemiology.  But I would like to really
>have a great answer, not just an okay answer.
>"Secure Server" made the following
> annotations on 11/17/2005 12:14:43 PM
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Richard Rothenberg, MD
Professor, Department of Medicine
Division of Infectious Disease
Emory University School of Medicine
Editor, Annals of Epidemiology
64 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive
Atlanta, GA 30303
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SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social
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