Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Weekly Update

The tasks that I was involved (and some thoughts) during this week include the following:

Outlined a preliminary schedule and brainstormed for the "Making a Blog Big" project with Nathan Purser

Read more about Structural Holes and Network Closure, including:
  • Ronald Burt's Structural Holes versus Network Closure (PDF). Notes:
    • Some more quickly become prominent; some enjoy higher incomes; some lead more important projects; the interests of some are better served than interests of others. Better connected people enjoy higher returns. (These are some things that we could use to validate our social capital metrics.)
    • The Social Capital Metaphor is "people that are better connected do better", whereas the Human Capital Metaphor is "people who do better are more able individuals; they are more intelligent; more attractive; more articulate; more skilled."
    • A generic research finding in sociology and social psychology is that information circulates more within than between groups
    • Social capital can be argued to exist in structural holes (bridging) and network closures (bonding). However, the studies he performs and shows indicate that structural holes are the source of social capital.
    • Networks of densely interconnected contacts are systematically associated with substandard performance (bonding); networks that span structural holes are associated with creativity and innovation, positive evaluations, early promotions, high compensation and profits (bridging).
    • There remains an important role for closure. It can be critical to realizing the value buried in structural holes.
    • The mechanisms remain distinct. Closure describes how dense or hierarchical networks lower the risk associated with transaction and trust, which can be associated with performance. The hole argument describes how structural holes are opportunities to add value with brokerage across the holes, which is associated with performance.
  • Bruce Hoppe's blog post, Reputation and Trust (aka "Network Closure")
    • Uses a good personal example of Network Closure
    • I commented, "Virtual communities, no doubt, have an impact on real communities. However, I would argue that Putnam's work stands as does Burt's. The main issue seems to be that social capital is challenging to define precisely. Are there any agreed upon mathematical definitions of social capital? (It seems that there is still too much ambiguity.)"
Reading that I like to get to:
Found some other interesting resources, along the way:

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