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On Fri, Apr 14, 2006 at 11:02:55PM +0700, Rick Davies wrote:
> Network diagrams are descriptions (albeit selective ones), and they only
> make sense in the light of expectations, assumptions, or theories, of what
> should be there. 

Sharpening Rick's point, consider diagrammatic techniques to form
languages.  This is good and bad at the same time, since it means that
they allow, e.g., for good and bad expressions, (mis)interpretations,
cultural and contextual dependencies, etc.  Some things are just easier
to formulate or understand in one language rather than another.

> On 4/14/06, patrick rose <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > 1) How can I respond to his/her criticisms?

All you need is a good argument why your visualizations ease the
communication of some network-related information.  This assumes that
your diagrams are of good quality (not only in terms of resolution) and
make a point that might otherwise by missed or difficult to understand.
Maybe they act as a summary or memorization of what otherwise extends
over several paragraphs.

> > 2) Whar are some general purposes of sociograms and any references that I
> > can take a look at and/or cite.

As regards references, I point to those Joerg sent (how wouldn't I?)

The general purpose is conveying information about the network.  This is
less stupid than it may sound, because it is a question of whether a
diagram is effective for the specific information or not.

To answer this question, you have to be aware of the precise
information that is to be conveyed, how to represent it graphically,
and how to actually produce a diagram that realizes your design [the
substance/design/algorithm argument in J. Theoretical Politics 1999].

A particular strength of network information visualization is the ability
to express complex dependencies compactly.  See

  Brandes, Kenis, Raab: Explanation Through Network Visualization.
  Methodology 2(1):16-23, 2006.

You may also want to reconsider the beautiful collection of network
diagrams and their natural use in

  Moreno: Who shall survive?
  Beacon House, 1953

Best regards,


Prof. Dr. Ulrik Brandes
Department of Computer &      | +49 7531 88 4433 (phone)
Information Science, Box D 67 | +49 7531 88 3577 (fax)
University of Konstanz        | [log in to unmask]
78457 Konstanz, Germany       |

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