Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Social Networks and Email

I recently completed some work on Social Network Analysis (SNA) and Email. Of particular interest to me is the combination of a standard corpus with the social network behind its creation. Towards these ends, I proposed combining standard Information Retrieval (IR) techniques and SNA. I even went so far as to do some numerical modelling to study the possibilities (and work on my coding skills!).

Since I completed the project, a number of new resources have come to my attention. If I had known about them a few weeks ago, I could have save a lot of time!

Social Network Fragments is a very interesting project created by danah boyd. It demonstrates the possibilities of SNA and email archives.

It seems that Valdis Krebs has been doing this sort of work for some time.

The topic has also been covered in the popular science community:

Emerging Technology :: Pass your e-mail through some new software and the answer will become obvious
By Steven Johnson
DISCOVER Vol. 24 No. 04--April 2003

E-mail reveals real leaders :: Network analysis maps companies' informal structure
20 March 2003
By Philip Ball
NATURE--20 March 2003

Email traffic patterns can reveal ringleaders
NEW SCIENTIST--27 March 2003

There is also some pertinent academic literature that had escaped my notice (damned preprint servers!):

Email as Spectroscopy: Automated Discovery of Community Structure within Organizations
Authors: Joshua R. Tyler, Dennis M. Wilkinson, Bernardo A. Huberman
2003

Featuring Web Communities based on Word Co-occurrence Structure of Communications
Authors: Yukio Ohsawa, Hirotaka Soma, Yutaka Matsuo, Naohiro Matsumura, Masaki Usui
2002

Self-similar community structure in organisations
Authors: R. Guimera, L. Danon, A. Diaz-Guilera, F. Giralt, A. Arenas
2002

One of the major problems I had was determining a way to visualize the networks. I had no intention of creating a custom spring embedded app to represent nodes and I couldn't find a publicly available one... until now:

HP's Zoomgraph

If anybody is interested in this sort of work, please feel free to contact me [email link].

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