I posted the following on Euan’s site:
I donâ€™t agree, primarily because you over-generalise.
A network analysis need not be on one group. It could for example map artefacts, projects, intra and inter project communications, trust networks, and intra and inter organisational interactions. My own research – http://www.durantlaw.info/Doctorate – seeks to do exactly this. In other words it is recognising that at one time we can belong to many networks.
Your second reason needs expansion. I have blogged on deconstructing complexity using network analysis techniques â€“ see http://www.durantlaw.info/Deconstructing+Complexity . In this case it was about understanding a portfolio of projects. Network analysis techniques were very useful in making the implicit, and in this case the invisible, projects explicit.
Now you might offer the criticism that I am not doing social network analysis. But remember projects are run by people who reside in organisations. Making the invisible or obscured explicit can, and in my example does, aid management and the knowledge workers. The techniques I am using come from social network analysis and in some circles might be called organisational network analysis ala Rob Cross.
If this doesnâ€™t convince you have a look at this website http://netmap.wordpress.com/case-studies/ which highlights the work of Eva Schiffer in Ghana.
Social network analysis need not be evil, and is not the same as social computing.
Euan identifies two points that make him nevous about SNA:
"The first is because the activity is invariably couched in terms of
one group – managers, the business – mapping the relationships of
everyone else – the people prepared to open up and use the social tools
in the first place.
The second is because they seek to make explicit something that is
much better left implicit. We can all work out what the network is and
where the good guys are from the using the tools and inhabiting the
environments they create without having to have it drawn out for us.
If I felt that someone else was mapping my conversions and the
relationships they represented – and wasn’t prepared to have the same
done to them, I would soon stop talking."
As I have commented on the blog, I detect a form of management paranoia; they don’t really
understand what social networking is all about, they don’t want to dip
their toes into what they consider to be muddy water, yet at the same
they want to understand it in the only way that makes sense to them –
numbers and statistics.
What worries me are the conclusions they may draw from this imprecise and flawed method of evaluation!