Friday, March 18, 2005

Software for Social Network Analysis

My brain is feeling a bit constipated lately. Wait, that's gross. Let's try this metaphor: like a squirrel hoarding nuts, I keep stuffing my cheeks with more research leads and other interesting to-do's. I doubt that you, dear reader, are keeping track, but I'll remember February's promises one of these days. And soon. In particular, I'll explore the wonderful online notes for "Organizational Social Networks" by Steve Borgatti, and then I'll tell all my stories from Sunbelt XXV.

By way of prepation, I've been delving more deeply into social network visualization software. I just got a beta copy of Krackplot 4, which is great for making dramatic animated morphing networks as shown here.

I've also been fiddling around in various ways with UCINET, Pajek, InFlow, and Netminer -- a few of the notable software packages out there for social network analysis.

For those of you curious to know more about software for SNA, here's a nicely done review by Mark Huisman and Marijtje A.J. van Duijn, "Software for Social Network Analysis." Over the course of 54 surprisingly readable pages, the authors review every bit of software listed on the INSNA catalogue. They conclude with an amazingly concise chart of rankings, which I have reproduced below:


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately this analysis was done from the point of view of the academic and what s/he needs. What about the business person?

Valdis said...

> Unfortunately this analysis was done from
> the point of view of the academic and what
> s/he needs. What about the business person?

Yes, tools like InFlow have a different audience with different needs. That audience is not testing hypotheses, but working with management to see their organization in a new way... in a project where SNA is not the end goal, but just another diagnostic tool. Even though InFlow runs the most common SNA metrics, most consultants do not present them to clients, preferring to point to general patterns in the organization.

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