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It’s Who You Know

It’s Who You Know (via Connectedness): “Social Network Analysis is a set of survey methods and statistics that reveals the hidden connections between people. The outcome of an SNA shows where collaboration is breaking down, where talent and expertise could be better used, where decisions are getting bogged down or where opportunities for innovation are being lost…Understanding how a company works used to be as easy as looking at an organizational chart. But in a networked organization (which most companies now are), the chart is no longer an adequate guide.”
Comment: I recently interviewed Barry Wellman on the subject of networks and learning. During the discussion, I asked him if networks could be seen as “the theory of everything” in relation to how things work in today’s information climate. Dr. Wellman stated that a theory of everything might be over-ambitious, but that network theory certainly does inform in a more direct manner the nature of our knowledge activities today. Hierarchy is a great system (for those involved in the early years of data management, hierarchy was the starting point of database systems). As database developers soon discovered, as information becomes more complex (and abundant), hierarchy becomes less useful. Relational (and now object-oriented) databases were developed as an alternative means for handling complex data relationships. I see a very similar trend in learning, organizational effectiveness, personal relationships, etc. Network theory is nicely aligned with our current knowledge needs and information climate.