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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.

-Malcolm



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