Category Archives: Scholars

Discussion from Socnet on Organizing and Networks

Here is Blyden Potts’ response to a socnet query bout who first started refering to organizations as networks…

It seems to me that asking the question the way your friend does
misunderstands the nature of the issue.
Social organization means patterns of social relations, and any pattern of
social relations is — or at least can be understood as — a social network.
Social networks are not a “fundamental form” of social organization, they
are a way of conceptualizing any and all social organization.

If your friend’s desire is to argue that people are organized in social
networks no reference to any literature would seem to be needed. It is
essentially tautological to say that people are organized in social
networks, a bit like saying the weather is organized meteorologically, and
if it really needs to be demonstrated then why not ground it directly in
empirical examples? The “new era” discovery of social network research was
not finding a new way in which people were organized. It was in finding a
new way to conceptualize and analyze whatever ways people are organized.

I think your friend would do well to reframe his approach from understanding
social networks as a type of organization, which it is not, to understand
social networks as a way of thinking about social organization, which it is.

And I would think Barnes would be a good example of an early work that lays
the foundation for the network way of thinking about social relations:

“Each person is, as it were, in touch with a number of other people, some of
whom are directly in touch with each other and some of whom are not…. I
find it convenient to talk of a social field of this kind as a network.* The
image I have is of a set of points some of which are joined by lines. The
points of the image are people, or sometimes groups, and the lines indicate
which people interact with each other. We can of course think of the whole
of social life as generating a network of this kind. For our present
purposes, however, I want to consider, roughly speaking, that part of the
total network that is left behind when we remove the groupings and chains of
interaction which belong strictly to the territorial and industrial systems.
… what is left is largely, though not exclusively, a network of ties of
kinship, friendship, and neighborhood. This network runs across the whole of
society and does not stop at the parish boundary.”  (p.43)

*Barnes’ footnote for “network” makes clear he is talking about an “image”
and “convention” for depicting social relations, not some particular KIND of
social relation.

Blyden Potts

Its a great quotation to have of Barnes.

I thought Simmel did some early conceptual framing… but i never got around to reading Simmel.  :<)

Barry Wellman’s original query:

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Filed under economic sociology, Networks, Scholars, Social Networks, social theory

Comparing fourth and fifth editions of Organizations by Richard Scott (And Gerry Davis for fifth)

So, a new edition of Organizations:Rational, Natural, and Open Systems by W. Richard Scott is out. Its co-authored by Gerry Davis (Who was a student of Scott’s at Stanford, apparently) and has a newer, more active title (stamp out nouns!). This book was an absolute classic for me doing my PhD at IESE. It also helped me bridge sociology and management. So, like the priests we are, it is good to turn back to the canon and see what is there.

Organizations and Organizing: rational, natural, and open systems perspectives.

I wanted to see if it is worth reading/buying the new version. A quick comparison of the two tables of contents reveals that some major changes were made. After Break for table.

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Filed under Books, organization studies, organization theory, Scholars, sociology

Lessig talk on ‘hybrid economy’ March 27 || Bucknell University

I am encouraging all of my former Capstone (“Rise of the Network Society”) students to attend this one.   Lessig is an important voice discussing the pratcical and poitical implications of the overalps between technology, culture, law, and also politics.

As the press release states, Professor Eric Faden, who is bringing Lessig, is a client due to his creation of A Fair(y) Use Tale which explore issues of copyright protection.

Looks good!  Hope you can make it!

News: Lessig talk on ‘hybrid economy’ March 27 || Bucknell University
Lawrence Lessig, the renowned copyright and intellectual property rights author and Stanford Law School professor, will present a talk titled, “Remix — Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy,” on Thursday, March 27, at 7 p.m. in Bucknell University’s Trout Auditorium.

The talk is free and open to the public.

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Filed under Creativity, digital culture, economic sociology, Government, policy, Political Economy, Scholars, technology

Scholarship 2.0: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

I am not an innovator, but maybe a first or late first adopter.   Of course, it varies by network too. At my university, I seem to be clearly an early adopter of many collaborative technologies (blogs, wikis, virtual worlds).  Anyway, this blog came up and seemed to be worth exploring further as my own scholarly work about Web 2.0/living web also takes on living web forms.

Mitchell Waldrop, coincidentally, is also the author of Complexity which is one of my favorite books and indirectly influenced my choices of scholarly interests in grad school and beyond.

This is a stub until I can look at the blog more.

Scholarship 2.0: An Idea Whose Time Has Come: <strong>Science 2.0</strong>
Scholarship 2.0 is devoted to describing and documenting the forms, facets, and features of alternative Web-based scholarly publishing philosophies and practices. The variety of old and new metrics available for assessing the impact, significance, and value of Web-based scholarship is of particular interest.

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Filed under Living Web, participatory technology, Research, Scholars, science, technology

Philoctetes A research Center on Creativity

My friend John Hunter, who is a crazy Comaprative Huamnities schoalr who is trying to bridge neurscience and humanities, put me onto this NY outift.

Philoctetes – Home

Their purpose is to… well, I’ll let them say:

The Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of the Imagination was established to promote an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to the understanding of creativity and the imaginative process.
The Center creates and supports projects, public forums, research and information gathering which foster cooperation and dialogue among diverse disciplines, while seeking to create public awareness of these efforts.

They had a program about education in SecondLife, a topic of absolutely explosive interest from where I stand.

The center looks interesting with a ranged of MDs and PhDs and a definite NYC cosmopolitan vibe. How do they fund such a thing, I wonder.

Given its relative accessibility (3 hours from here), looks like something I will have to explore further.

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Filed under Creativity, higher education, liberal arts, Research, Scholars, Uncategorized

Messin’ with my head: Our solar system isnt what it used to be

Not only did they diss cute, rakishly-tilted Pluto, no the astronomers are really messin’ with my head.

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 03/04/2008 | Our solar system isnt what it used to be
Under the new definition, the International Astronomical Union has officially recognized 11 planets: eight traditional ones plus three “dwarf planets. The dwarfs are Pluto; Ceres, which was thought to be an asteroid between Mars and Jupiter; and Eris, an object thats slightly larger than Pluto and farther from the sun.

At least 40 more dwarfs have been spotted even farther out and are awaiting official recognition. They bear names such as Quaoar, Sedna, Orcus, Varuna and Ixion. Dozens of others are known only by code numbers.

Maybe they miss the golden days of Galileo and Copernicus. They figure the stodgy field of astronomy will be shaken up by creating controversy and having the civil-religious authorities persecute them so they can be martyred on the high altar of science.

They still seem street-dumb though. They gave away those dwarf planet names for firesale prices. What would the naming rights of a dwarf planet be worth? How many telescopes could be bought with the proceeds from the official Gates planet, or Nike planetoid.

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Filed under humor, Research, Scholars

Professional Development Workshop Ideas (for any Management/Org Studies Conference)

Some professional email correspondence led me to brianstorm the kinds of PDWs I would like to see happen or participate in.

As I will never get around to all of these, here they are for the taking:

Ideas for AOM PDWs

– Collaborative knowledge tools for researchers (how to use blogs, wikis, podcasts, and so on).  My thinking was more about how to use them to support and advance research (as opposed to self-promotion, but that could fit too.)

– Qualitative and Mixed Method Network Analysis (Dvaid Obstfeld and I have kicked this around in passing).

– Network Analysis/Netcentric thinking for Org and Strategic Interventions.  At Sunbelt or AOM once David Krackhardt (And a few others) talked about this.  Could be OMT and ODC joint project and focus on more full cycle research (not just anecdotes).

– The “lost” theory of networks (Simmel, White, Econ Sociology, Complexity, Emirbayer): An attempt to push back on networks as all method no theory idea.  I don’t agree, but am  a little wary of opening a structuralist vs. individualist cat fight.  I mean, I like healthy disagreement, as opposed to paradigm policing.

– Using Web 2.0 to collect data:  I have been doing some research on SecondLife and other virtual worlds.  I have also wondered how to take advantage of facebook et al to get some network data.  So, this would be like sharing tips and tricks of the trade.  Also, discussing thorny issues of human subject review.  And privacy.   Maybe AOM could throw its weight around (ha ha) and get us a social network CEO to come and talk about corporate-research data sharing.

– Institutions, Organizations, and Networks: Common Ground and Common Agendas:  I feel like there is some sort of gap between institutional theory and network research.  or maybe its just niche proliferation, but i have been wondeirng why some sort of “grand synthesis” hasn’t been created (or maybe it has and I missed it out here in the wilds of Pennsylvania).

– Social Entrepreneurs and Networks.  Do the networks and network strategies of social entrpreneurs/innovators differ from the plain old “normal” ones?  Does the prima facie need to address a social concern and claim a higher moral authority effect how social entrepreneurs get things done?  Maybe a SIM, ENT, OMT, CMS joint project.

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Filed under conferences, economic sociology, organization studies, Orgs Stuff (theory, science, studies), Research, Scholars, Social Networks, virtual worlds

Amazing Adam Smith Quotation

Glenn Greenwald digs up this real gem from Adam Smith.

 In great empires the people who live in the capital, and in the provinces remote from the scene of action, feel, many of them, scarce any inconveniency from the war; but enjoy, at their ease, the amusement of reading in the newspapers the exploits of their own fleets and armies . . . .

They are commonly dissatisfied with the return of peace, which puts an end to their amusement, and to a thousand visionary hopes of conquest and national glory from a longer continuance of the war.

I joke with friends about what its like to be living during the apex and fall of the empire.   Especially when you consider how much our army looks like a mercenary army between private contractors and the growth of citizen-seeking legal aliens.  Machaivelli had something to say about what happens to the prince who relies on mercenaries.

This also happens to remind me of the admonishments the younger Holmes had for his father in their civil war correspondence.  Been reading that in Louis Menand’s the Metaphysical Club. The younger one basically keeps telling Pa to lay off about how the war should be fought and that poorly fought wars, even for a good cause, are still major cluster fucks.  Well, I’m paraphrasing.

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Filed under Great Quotations, Military, Politics, Power, Activism, Scholars

Writing as seeing

Reading “The Generative Properties of Richness” by Karl Weick (h/t to Ted), he brought up this great quotation from  the recollections of a former student of Louis Agassiz, a Swiss-born zoologist and geologist.

After forcing his students to spend hours staring at a fish and asking them to explain what they really saw (and muttering “No, that is not right” in a guttural Swiss accent, I suppose) one of these poor/lucky students starts to draw the fish.  Agassiz clucks:

‘That is right, a pencil is one of the best eyes.’

I love it.  I know that I don’t really own, or get, an idea until I commit finger to keyboard, pen to paper.

What is often frustrating though is that to do such writing, such seeing, means I need to  take the time to write a lot more.  For example, I always  wanted to take copious reading notes on anything I read.  But  the pressures to finish, to make progress, to show results means I don’t.  and then you end up with the ridiculous situation where you have “forgotten” you read an article untill you discover two copies with notes.

At least it is affirming when they underlining is 90% the same.  yeah consistency of consciousness!

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Filed under Scholars, writing

Search for Social Physics (keynote from INSNA)

Keynote Address
By soft science we mean, science conducted on phenomena that don’t tend to come with numbers already attached. And by hard science we mean science that has been around long enough to have acquired the ability to have numbers already attached.

That  is a pretty clear definition of hard and soft science.    This is from INSNA’s keynote address about ten years back.  One of the two speakers, Peter Killworth, just passed away which I learned from the INSNA list-serv, SOCNET.

The address looks like its worth reading.  Of course one is immediately struck by the very INSNA-y approach of having a physical scientist and an anthropologist.  That kind of deeply interdisciplinary work seems to be often the hallmark and honey (attractiveness) of research that attracts netheads. (Did I just coin that?  An off shoot of orgheads?)

The idea of social physics has come up before.  Harrison White and Duncan Watts more recently, at least in terms of their career trajectories.  Also, I recall one fo those grand daddy type sof social science (Comte? Sant-Simone?) said something to that effect.  Maybe I can check later…

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Filed under Networks, Research, Scholars, social theory