Thursday, October 12, 2006

Conversations with Valdis: Part 3

Continuing from the last post, Valdis Krebs talks more about his process for social network analysis. Here he explains more about the group on which he focuses.


Valdis explains that centrality metrics include scores for "degrees" and "betweeness." "Degrees" tells you the number of steps that one person would have to take to connect to someone else. "This measure tells you the least about what's going on in a network," says Valdis, "but it is a simple way of measuring activity. If I have 10 connections, and you have two, it means that I am more active in the network. Unfortunately, this is not particularly valuable information on its own."


Betweenness is a measure that can be the most revealing about the largest number of issues. Valdis says, "It uncovers the role of connector that Gladwell talked about. If you have a high "betweeness" score, you're connecting parts of the network that wouldn't be connected otherwise.

Someone with such a score can be a broker and very valuable to the network. On the other hand, if brokering is too much work, he or she can be a bottleneck and detrimental to the network.

Brokers have a lot of power and control over what flows within the network because everyone has to go through them. It can be a good thing -- helpful -- or a bad thing -- misuse power or if you quit, the company's screwed for information flow."


Closeness measures "how close is one node to all other nodes -- how quickly can this node reach other nodes in the minimum number of steps. People talk about six degrees of separation. There really are only two that are valuable -- three at the most." Valdis gave an excellent example of this in our first conversation.


Valdis created a new metric to help the others make more sense as a group. "The last metric is Power -- a combination of Betweenness and Closeness. do you have quick have quick access to everyone else, and does you need anyone else -=- location, location, location -- in real estate, the value is geographical -- want to be at a good intersection, near good schools, good neighborthood, etc.

Valdis concluded, "In the network, it's about who you're connected to and who they're connected to that measures your power. Access plus control."

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