Social Network Analysis

Social network analysis is focused on uncovering the patterning of people's interaction. (in Social Software or other software)

Here's a Thought Question: why do it? What are we going to learn... that matters?

  • some articles have talked about Dealing With Terrorism by using analysis to identify communication hubs (people) for high-priority capture, assassination, or "turning". OK, that seems useful.

    • tangent: there's a nice section in Crypto Nomicon where Alan Turing is getting a start on breaking a code by noting correlations between when/where messages are sent using that code vs Real World things that happen before/after (e.g. a message gets sent to the Phillipines, then a mining expert is picked up there by submarine...)
  • in the public BlogWeb Attention Economy, I guess it helps you identify the A-List so you know who to suck up to...

  • but in corporate/BigCo settings, what's the point in identifying para-formal communication groups and hubs?

    • reward people for serving certain roles? (Great, then we can build internal spamming tools to game the analysis system!)

    • I suppose once you identify groups, you could then ask people to define those groups, and that might be a useful reference for others in the organization, a sort of group-focused Knowledge Management system (some systems already use EMail contents to define profiles for people, so that others in the company can find them based on info/expertise needs).

    • Why do I find it more likely that a PointyHairedBoss (PHB) will use this data like John Ashcroft would? "Hey, I told you all communication with Marketing has to go through me!" (So now, to mirror the Whuffie-spam-robots, everyone can send their meaningful email traffic via off-site mail forwarders to avoid sniffing (although the firewalls will see it)... This reminds me of the scene in SnowCrash where the woman is pacing how she pseudo-reads through an online memo because she knows the system tracks how long she takes to read it, and people make ridiculous Double Bind interpretations of the data.)

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