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Okay, I was following you until you likened yourself to nash :)

...personally I don't see the purely subjective approach as useful for most 
business needs...really, we all see different shapes in the clouds and so 
data analysis lends itself well to managers who wish to go beyond gut 

as for the nodes point, I sort of see this... People are not just nodes, 
there is depth to the individuals...but data can also get at this.

And oddly, while mainstream pubs jump all over milgram citations they 
rarely mention that few packages reached their destinations, and of those 
reaching end points the conduits shared several common interest/traits (as 
I understood it)..they work harder to sell it as proof of 6 degrees etc...

it seems that the real suspect here is "viral marketing " in industry and 
the exploitation of sna to create a discipline and approach that firms can 
bank on where previously there was only endless posturing (think: seth 
godin et al)..thats what sites like myspace are about - leveraging network 
ties to effect product/service sales. Period.

it seems like this is boiling down to the use of terms...

Honestly, would you feel better if another canadian muslim were detained 
because some intell officer visually glanced at his connections and through 
sheer whimsy determined that he'd found another al qaeda operative? Or on a 
more personal level, if online predators were wrongly identified within 
myspace by "eyeballing" profiles (many parents add their kids and kids' 
friends and so are suspect with such an approach)

just my two cents...

...... Original Message .......
On Mon, 9 Oct 2006 17:18:21 -0500 Scott Allen 
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:
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>That is an extremely intriguing question, Joshua.  In fact, I think that 
>"experienced participant" does "intuit", for lack of a better word, a
>substantial part of what SNA does.
>You remember "A Beautiful Mind", where the patterns just start popping out
>at him on the chalkboard?  I have much the same experience when I look at a
>person's MySpace profile or a typical discussion board.  I can just look and
>tell you who the thought leaders are, which relationships are stronger vs.
>weaker, etc.
>Of course, I imagine that someone who does the formal SNA all the time can
>probably do the same -- the formal analysis often just confirms their
>initial impression.
>But let me tell you a couple of things that I think are part of that 
>that aren't part of SNA research (to the limited degree I'm familiar with
>For one, there is very little qualitative analysis of the relationships.
>There also seems to be a general recognition that this is a missing aspect.
>For example, is the volume of messages between two people, or even the
>length of those messages, really a good indicator of relationship strength?
>Personal experience tells me otherwise.  I communicate less often with my
>mother than I do with many of my casual acquaintances, and the messages
>aren't (usually) any longer.  Yet look at the content of the messages, and
>you'll get cues that quantitative analysis won't give you.
>Now, part of that can be done as an "independent" observer, if you have
>access to the data. But how many people have direct access to MySpace's
>data, for example? So if you want to collect that data yourself, you have 
>be a participant -- to observe people's bulletins, the postings in private
>groups, etc. And you can't just show up as a researcher -- try posting a
>survey on craigslist or eBay (you can't). Much like Jane Goodall amongst 
>apes, even though you may at first be perceived as an outsider, over time,
>through authentic participation, you can build trust and the behaviors will
>go back to somewhat normal, but you now have access to flows of information
>that you couldn't possibly as an outsider.
>And once you're an insider, then yes, part of your methodology can include
>exchanging information with other participants. They'll be willing to tell
>you things that they might not to an outsider. Actually, it's not so much
>that they might be secretive -- it's just that without you being a
>participant yourself, the relationship may not be strong enough to cross 
>action threshold for them to spend the time.
>> As a side note, one thing that the "number-crunching" approach can get
>> you is that it can identify large-scale phenomena (especially diffuse
>> phenomena) that can be very hard for a single human investigator to
>> identify, simply because of the amount of information involved.
>No doubt. And that's why it's particularly valuable at a strategic level.
>But I'm skeptical -- and I think many businesspeople are -- about its
>ability to quickly determine the best tactics for whatever it is you're
>trying to accomplish within the network. As a business decision-maker, I
>would generally want the most available input I could get. But the reality
>is that business operates under constraints of time and budget. And
>sometimes, the speed of the decision is as important as the accuracy -- an
>80% answer today is better than a 99% answer next week.
>Hence the fundamental difference in perspective between the scientist and
>the businessperson.
>Scott Allen
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