This coming Saturday, I am scheduled to make a presentation as part of the Mixed-Methods panel at the 2012 INSNA Sunbelt conference. The attached PDF is my current draft that I am now in the process of tweaking. If you have a moment to peruse it and offer suggestions or comments, I would be most grateful.
I've got stuff to say on this, but my post got deleted because I left the page and went back after writing it. I'll redo it later.
Yeah, sorry about that. I actually went back to reference the power point without thinking halfway through my comment.
Anyway, I'm framing comments knowing that I don't know what you'll add to the slides, so if you've already got it covered then please disregard. Basically, this is what I'd be thinking in the audience at a mixed methods conference. It also depends on whether you are presenting on an SNA panel to an audience that are well versed in the method. I've also used SNA in real projects.
First, I'm not sure how many people in the audience will have a deeply formal understanding of the minutia of SNA. The first time I used it, I had to teach myself by reading 3 books, and over a dozen articles, because so few people do it outside of business departments, or UC Irvine. I wrote to some of the more commonly known folks at the the U of Kentucky, et al. and they were able to help as well. It wasn't until later that I had actual training in the applied process of SNA. It pissed me off a little, because I didn't realize just how complicated SNA folks like to make common and intuitive understandings of social connections sound like your reading a book with nothing but computer code. I'm only saying this, because even for people familiar with SNA in theory and practice, some of the details aren't always easily understood without reference. So, perhaps having an early slide showing a couple of matrices somewhat filled with hypothetical, relational data to represent a 2-modal model; at least something before the presentation of SNA coefficients in a table.
Then perhaps a socio-gram showing all of the elements you explore: Betweeness, P-cores, K-clusters, etc... I promise you that if you tossed that at me in a conference I'd have to really think about the difference between a P-core and a K-cluster, the many other relational operations in SNA. Mind you it's been over a year since I even thought about it.
Second, I don't understand the premise of the presentation. SNA was developed in collaboration between anthropologists, and social psychologists, then sociologists, and later business folks. Ethnographers don't have a given set of methods, and we've been using the method since it's inception. Bot and others were writing articles about in the 1950's. I admit that it isn't standard fare in a lot of departments, but it isn't in most disciplines minus a few select institutions. It was supposed to be anthros that carried SNA and abstract & matrix algebra through the 20th century, while everyone else relied almost exclusively on stats. We've really fallen behind due to our math phobia, but that's just a matter of methodological laziness, and an over reliance on qualitative methods, not something inherent in ethnography.
This is also why I was a bit confused when you get to the slide that highlights what you call the, "Ethnographer's Eye," for a socio-gram. Again, I don't understand how what you circle or notice is anymore related to ethnography than just seeing very notable patterns. I think most researchers would notice those. Later you explain that you are going to present a valuable insight into the data from ethnography, but it sounds more like just something an industry insider would know from any field. I'm not sure most of the ad guys would intuitively see and thing the same thing you did.
What I'm getting at here, is that the beauty of SNA is that it explains so damned much with so little. I mean, if you tell me the geography, population, climate, technology, and mode of subsistence of an area, then I could probably tell you details about how people there live and why, without ever having to go. SNA theory tells us that relationships are based on various spacial distances, and physical barrier between people. There's very little agency involved. When I was in Afghanistan for the Army I was able to develop a predictive model of what would be somewhere before I got there using these things and solid SNA theory, and I was usually right. If things were just what I predicted then I didn't need to look for an explanation, because I already had it. If it was off a little then another theory would account for it. There is a kind of beautiful inevitablity about the way networks drive behaviors in predictable ways, and that those networks are based on solid rules that can be known. In my work in Dallas, I can across an SNA phenomenon that wasn't accounted for anywhere, and it broke some of the most solid rules of SNA. I was able to eventually explain it, but it's not that common. Speaking of which you wanna help me write a paper on that so we can get credit for developing a new SNA theory?
What I'm saying is that I'm not making a connection between cause and affect here. It seems rather teleological. The top guys have high betweeness scores, because they've won the most awards, but then why wouldn't they? What about were the rules that made that socio-gram inevitable, and what did it mean? In a lot of ethnographies researchers try hard to present human reasoning and justification of their behaviors, but SNA shows us that most of these explanations are arbitrary justifications after the fact to make sense of it ex post facto. So, that could be an insight of you experience. Perhaps you've viewed that community as real people with relationships and agency, whereas SNA strips them of that identity and tells us that it is the relations which are the primary elements of a society, with individual nodes being minor players.
Again, I was to emphasize that I don't know how you're gonna present it, where, or to whom. Nor can I speak to what you're trying to say, which is probably something I'm totally missing. Because I didn't get the "ah ha" or "so what" moment, doesn't mean it's not there.
Much respect, and I really want to sit down and pick your brain next time I'm in Nippon over a Kirin Ichiban or two.
Thanks to everyone for their feedback. The version of this presentation that I presented at Sunbelt XXXII in LA can be found here.