Friday, June 29, 2007

Social network metrics are for eggheads

Thanks to Frank van Ham, co-creator of ManyEyes and researcher at IBM's Visual Communication Lab, for giving me the title of my next talk: "Social network metrics are for eggheads." I don't know where or when this talk will occur, but that will be the title.

One case study I will share as part of the talk will be the the following wonderful project by Valdis Krebs. He was working with a group advocating for healthy affordable housing. Time and again they had cornered one dilapidated building or another into cleaning up its lead paint, only to hear the owners announce, “We just sold the building, sorry.” After hearing this excuse a few times, they sensed something was up. With a little research at the library, they found all the real estate holding companies involved in the series of sales were associated with one “godfather” who ran the whole empire through a network of children, siblings, spouses, and in-laws. The piece of evidence that ultimately convinced the judge to throw the book at the lead-paint mafia was a network map like so:
Real estate companies are green at the top, godfather/mother are at the very bottom, and intermediaries who own/run the companies are in the middle.

Those of us participating in the debate over how best to measure social networks in ways that predict important outcomes (such as revenue, profit, or shareholder value, to name a few) can forget that there are also simpler and less controversial applications of SNA. Valdis' Family Ties picture above is one great example.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 License and is copyrighted (c) 2007 by Connective Associates except where otherwise noted.

1 comment:

Dexrex said...

Im just curious to the title of your post and spend my time to post a comment that could help your fellow bloggers.
I found social networking as a tool which had been primarily designed for social interaction and sharing. You can gain lots of friends and build reputation over the net.
Social networks are clearly a platform that many corporations use to tighten and build employees relationships to be stronger.