Thursday, June 30, 2005

Social Networks and the Hype Curve

Thanks to Lynda Moulton of Boston's KM Forum for posting the slides to Kate Ehrlich's recent talk on social network analysis. One of my favorite visuals from Kate's talk was a "Hype Curve" from the Gartner Group, which shows how new technologies initially grow too fast for their own good, crashing from a "Peak of Inflated Expectations" into a "Trough of Disillusionment" before stabilizing on a "Plateau of Productivity." Below you can see Gartner's 2004 estimation that SNA is only at the beginning of a wild ride:

This view of SNA coincides with the guarded optimism I've reported from scholars like Steve Borgatti. (And see here for recent comments on this topic.) One of my more ambitious goals in writing this blog is to help temper the initial burst of irrational SNA exuberance and help raise the ultimate plateau of SNA productivity. I'd say Kate's research is also in line with that measured approach, and I recommend her paper in progress (co-authored with Inga Carboni), "Inside Social Network Analysis," as a nice introduction.


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