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Valdis Krebs 03-24-09 Network Research Insights

Valdis Krebs 03-24-09 Network Research Insights

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Published by: Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) on Sep 10, 2009
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 Creative Commons License Attribution-Noncommercial No Derivative Works 3.0 UnitedStates The Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Floor Cleveland Ohio 44103 USA1Interview and transcription March 24, 2009
Valdis Krebs, Social Network Software and AnalysisNetwork Analysis -- Research Insights March 2009Innovations in Network Research
So, one of the nice things about working in the network world is it’s a real exciting placeto be these days. There is a lot of research going on and there is a lot of people doing a lotof different things and it’s just amazing, all of the neat papers and articles that come out,it’s almost like I don’t have time to read them all. So, this whole field of network sciencehas been around a while, it started basically with sociologists and anthropologists back inthe 1930’s when they were studying small groups. They were studying small groups inschools, they were studying small groups in organizations, they were studying smallgroups on wild Pacific Islands and they needed a way to map things out so they starteddrawing circles and lines and showing these people are connected through family ties andthese people are connected through neighbor ties and these people work together on thisworkbench and then they pass off their finished work product to those people on thisworkbench and so, this whole mapping process became part of network analysis, as itwas called back then. It is still very useful today except that today we computers to helpus do all that, we no longer do it by hand. As computers have become more and morefunctional and smaller and smaller and cheaper and cheaper, we’ve been able to do manythings on them that we couldn’t do before. So people in the fifties, if they were luckythey had access to some kind of mainframe or more in the sixties that was true and theywere able to do some analysis, but today the kind of analysis that people would waittwenty-four hours for on a mainframe, we can do on a Mac Book in twenty-four seconds.We can have a discussion now with our clients, with our customers, about network mapsand network patterns and what’s going on. So we can quickly run various 'What if's?’ wecan say, “Okay, what if we add in a new connection between these groups? Whathappens if we add in a new person? What if this person leaves? What if these people whoare used to working together, now get moved to two different buildings?” We can do allsorts of “What if?” analysis very quickly and understand what might happen with thisvery complex human system that we’re dealing with.
 Creative Commons License Attribution-Noncommercial No Derivative Works 3.0 UnitedStates The Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Floor Cleveland Ohio 44103 USA2[22:40:24] So, back to the research, like I said, sociologists and anthropologists startedthis whole field, and probably in the 1980’s we had lots of business people gettinginterested in what was going on here and in the 1990’s, and in the late 1990’s physicists s became very interested in networks and mathematicians and biologists and so now, thisfield of network science has many of the hard sciences, not just the social sciences, allcompeting with each other, writing papers, not always quoting each other, but that’s howit goes, it’s kind of the Wild, Wild West, the Gold Rush in the network world, but, thatalso makes it a very exciting place to be and what makes it exciting is that learning fromone party of the field often gets transferred over to another part. I am a big believer in thisconcept that innovation happens at the intersections, so the more intersections we canhave with people who have similarities and differences, the better we are. Becauseinnovation usually isn’t something brand new that gets created out of the blue, it’susually taking something that kind of works over here and moving it over there andgetting it to work. It’s not like in organizations where we were looking often at best practices, where we were trying to move something exactly from one place to another, but when we move something we usually have to adapt it. Because it works in the contextthat it’s in a certain way and then when we take it out of that context some things have tochange so we have to adapt to it. Often, the fundamental pattern, the fundamentalstructure can be moved and adapted between various organizations, various groups,various communities, and various regions. So, works in Northeast Ohio region, may work in Indiana. What works in Indiana, may work in Wisconsin. What works in ruralSoutheast Ohio down around Athens, may also work in Madison, Wisconsin in the ruralarea there. There are things that can get transferred, there are lessons that can be learned,there are techniques that can be transferred, but then again we have to realize we can’ttake it ‘lock stock and barrel’. Once we uproot this tree here, we have to plant itelsewhere and we have to put different dirt around it and we have to make sure there’senough roots and all that other stuff.[25:35:00] So, in this whole field, we are finding from the biologists that there’s thisconcept that they’re all interested in called, “motifs” and what that is, is that there arecertain network patterns that seem to show up in diseases, there are certain network  patterns that seem to show up in the Brain, and in the Brain of multiple species, there’scertain patterns that show up in nervous systems, in eco systems and things like that.These are adaptive patterns that have evolved in nature over millions or billions of years.These are patterns that are useful for that species to do what it needs to do. We are takingthat learning from Biology and we’re looking at organizations and communities. Arethere certain motives; are there certain patterns that we see in organizations that performwell, in communities that perform well? Is there a difference between a so-called “Smart Network” and a network that doesn’t perform as well, a network that struggles? That’skind of an interesting thing to look at because we can take learning’s from other scienceslearning’s from complexity sciences, looking at the world from fractals and chaos andemergence, and what does that teach about structures that evolve and are useful for communities and organizations? It’s an exciting time and there’s a lot of people doing a
 Creative Commons License Attribution-Noncommercial No Derivative Works 3.0 UnitedStates The Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Floor Cleveland Ohio 44103 USA3lot of things and sharing information. If you go on to places like Twitter or the SONETlist or if you go to the Sunbelt Conference and places like that there are all these ideasflying around and people are sharing these things and people are walking away with newintersections. They’re going back to their home base and hopefully, a lot of interestinginnovations will happen out of these new intersections that are happening.Our generous thanks to Valdis Krebshttp://www.orgnet.com The Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open)4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Floor Cleveland Ohio 44103 USACopyright 2009 I-Openhttp://i-open.orgCreative Commons LicenseAttribution-Noncommercial No Derivative Works 3.0 United States
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BiographicalValdis Krebs
is the Founder, and Chief Scientist, at orgnet.com. Valdis is a managementconsultant, researcher, trainer, author, and the developer of InFlow software for socialand organizational network analysis [SNA/ONA]. InFlow maps and measures knowledgeexchange, information flow, emergent communities, networks of alliances and other connections within and between organizations and communities.

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