Monday, October 25, 2004

Social Networks

For the first time in this course, I can actually say that I really got it. This brief and straight to the point reading delivered a very important illustration of social network analysis and the means by which it is employed. The kite method is an approach that makes the subject "approachable" for the general masses (or in this case, me) or as Melissa put it visually illustrates the human relationship within the organization.

The idea of using degrees as way to measure the amount of network activity is one that can be easily understood and regulated. By looking at each person and the amounts of "hits" per say they get through direct connections can be a useful tool. As all things in life though, this idea has a flip side. People are naturally inclined to assume that most "hits" equals the better position, but the text points out that this isn't necessarily the case. It doesn't always mean the more the "hits" the better, but rather how many home runs you scored at the end of the season.

Noteworthy other aspects of social networks analysis are the concepts of betweeness and closeness. Betweenness looks at the position between important players of the game. Sarah summed this up nicely with it simply being the shorter the path, the quicker translation of information. Much like the manager of a team in a baseball game, information may must be sent through a single person that perhaps sums an entire group. And just like a manager of a team in a baseball game, if this person doesn't deliver the right message...they take the blame. If looking at this same baseball example, the pitcher and catcher would be the ones to show the importance of betweenness. While they don't exactly communicate with the rest of the team throughout a game as much as they communicate with each other...they have the quickest ability to reach other players if need be. This is to say that when A Rod takes the plate they tell the outfield to go back.

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