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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Friday, July 19, 2024

Social Network Analysis – Identities and Relationships

Author: Mark Dixon
Saturday, June 10, 2006
4:38 am

The CIO Magazine article by Susan Patton, “Who Knows Whom, And Who Knows What?”, about Social Network Analysis (SNA) was particularly interesting to me when I considered it against the related backdrops of Digital Identity and the Participation Age.

The article quotes Valdis Krebs, an SNA expert who founded an SNA software company called Orgnet.com: “SNA can be defined as the mapping and measuring of relationships and flows between people, groups, organizations, computers, or other information- or knowledge-processing entities.”

By mapping how people are connected to and communicate with others in an organization, “Social network analysis provides a clear picture of the ways that far-flung employees and divisions are working together, and can help companies identify key experts in the organization.”

One of the popular uses of SNA is to discover who in a group may be overburdened by too many people asking him or her for help, or who possesses a valuable reservior of knowlege but is about to retire. As you consider your own professional situation, wouldn’t it be interesting to see a social network map of the people with whom you interact … and they interact?

The article primarily addresses SNA within the context of a major business enterprise or government organization. However, it mentions the emergence of popular social networks that exist outside a traditional business environment: “The rise of blogs, online support sites and social networking sites—such as Friendster and LinkedIn—have also helped raise SNA’s profile.”

I perceive that SNA is all about Identities and Relationships. To identify who possess valuable knowledge (an Identity attribute) and who interacts with whom (relationships), SNA attempts to map how people participate within an area of interest.

Over the past many years, I have attempted to record all the people with whom I have interacted in my personal knowlege base, linked to the person who introduced us. It would be an interesting exercise to conduct a social network analysis of sorts to understand how the people with whom I have interacted also interact with others. In the Participation Age, the traditional geographic boundaries that may have limited these interactions have diminished. My typical workday includes active participation with people in several timezones, in multiple organizations. My blog reaches more people than that. Social networks attempt to expand and strengthen such interactive participation. Yesterday alone, I connected with two more people on LinkedIn – another as I was writing this article.

Today, I will unveil a bit of my network, a list of some of the people in the Identity industry who’s blogs or other writings I have studied in my quest for knowledge about Identity Management. This list, entitled “Whodentity?” includes links to bios and blogs of people who have influenced me in the Identity industry. I know few of those people on a personal level, but each is part of my extended network because their knowledge has contributed to mine. Their blogs and writings include links to others.

So … SNA maps people and their relationships with others. Identity Management seeks to leverage Identity attributes to facilitate relationship with others. The Participation Age is all about enabling interactive relationships. Methinks it all ties together.

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