"Life is still. It is we who are racing by" Yann Martel (on his webpage What is Steven Harper reading)

Archive for April, 2012

JustJoan’sPosts

As I was waiting ‘patiently’ for an hour in the chilly May evening for my bus to arrive, it afforded me time to finish Chapter 3 of Kadushin’s book, which focuses on social networks, the power of weak links, sociograms, density and structural holes among other points.

In his discussion about the mulitplexity of networks and the power of weak ties  to bridge connections and “facilitate the flow of information from otherwise distant parts of a network (p. 31)” Kadushin uses examples of business organizations, a karate club, the spread of disease and even computer viruses to illustrate his point. I was particularly interested in the computer generated representations of the connections (sociograms) in a network and the disparity of control over information between nodes that had very dense connections and those on the periphery, whose link was tenuous.

Perhaps it was the group of young adults hanging out a few feet from where I was waiting for the bus, making me feel particularly vulnerable, but I started wondering if anyone had created a sociogram for terrorists…and wouldn’t you know it, here’s the link:

http://www.casos.cs.cmu.edu/events/conferences/2005/2005_proceedings/Basu.pdf

The sociogram in this study is slightly unnerving in how it demonstrates the inter-connectivity between different groups and how much harder it has become  to weaken an organization by eliminating the leaders. Thinking about our discussion on Latour’s Actor Network Theory and that each node is itself another network, the possibility of seriously weakening terrorist activity seems depressingly unlikely.

Web 2.0 has strengthened the weak links so that organizations can continue to function even when key influencers are taken out of the network. It makes me wonder how much the military uses these types of systems to determine the best strategies for dealing with terrorist networks.

And on that cheerful note, I’ll head off with a cup of tea to finish this evening’s readings.

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