Thursday, October 26, 2006

Visualizing Enron's Social Networks

Charles Armstrong and his team over at Trampoline Systems have released an online interactive demo of their capabilities.

In October 2003 the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission placed 200,000 of Enron's internal emails from 1999-2002 into the public domain as part of its ongoing investigations. The archive offers an extraordinary window into the lives and preoccupations of Enron's top executives during a turbulent period. Trampoline engineers used this data as testbed during development of the company's SONAR technology. The result was so fascinating we decided to open it up and allow anyone to dig in. The Enron Explorer lets you investigate the actions and reactions of Enron's senior management team as the noose began to tighten.

You can jump directly to the demo page here I highly recommend reading the Comments section in this area of the site.

Trampoline also got a shout-out from Wired Magazine earlier this year.

Trampoline is headquartered in Shoreditch, London. What is a "shoreditch" anyway? Out here we have Los Altos (the Heights) and Milpitas (the Cornfield); at least they sound more attractive!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sunni and Shia - a map tells it all

There's an astonishing article by Jeff Stein today "Can you tell a Sunni from a Shiite?" (New York Times; free registration required). It's astonishing because he asked a wide selection of Washington D.C. policy-gods if they could give him a brief explanation of the differences between Muslim Shia and Sunni's; few could! Without getting into a lots of details one might hope they would at least know that most Muslims (85%) are Sunni while the remainder are Shia. More importantly, vis-a-vis, the current problems in Iraq, Iran is mostly Shia. The map tells it all. Particularly notice the concentration of Shia in Iraq. This map was produced, and made available online, by the Central Intelligence Agency!
If you think this is interesting you might begin to consider the historical differences between Iran (Persia) and the Arab world. It is not even remotely true to say that all Muslims have a shared hatred of the West.
One reference "Sons of the Conquerors" Hugh Pope takes a look at the changing landscape of the old Ottoman Empire, state by state.
Now if I could find some way to get the policy-gods away from their comic books and on to some serious reading I'd be a happy man.

Jan 2007, more Christian Science Monitor here

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Social Network Analysis - Executives using them now...?!

A compendium of SNA articles from BusinessWeek here In general it looks like there's beginning to be a modest awareness of how social software can be used in the context of the enterprise - so, better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick! Still, I feel we have a lot of work to do articulating the impact of SNA/ONA on productivity, organizational agility, and customer satisfaction.
While we are on the subject of social networks in business settings - you should (must) be a member of the LinedIn network.

Global Social Networks

[Personal Note: I've been in Yosemite... no cell coverage, no WiFi...spooky!]
Social networks are wonderful, and instructive, and infuriating all the same time mainly because the volume of information needed to make sense of them is large and everchanging. When faced with this type of problem we correctly ask - show me the big trends, how big is this network, what direction is it going, how quickly does it change...etc? Basically, give me some signposts to follow! Visualization condenses masses of data into meaningful images that provide these key signposts.
The image above comes from the International Networks Archive at Princeton - and there's more to see here
Obviously these particular maps took time and careful study to produce but I believe they are pointing us in the right direction. We are only at the very beginning of visualizing social networks.
What are the best social networks maps YOU have seen?