Here is David Lazer’s keynote talk at the Political Networks 2009 Conference that took place recently (James Fowler’s talk is also worth watching):
Lazer shows examples from a lot of state-of-the-art network research, mostly centred around politics. It gives you a pretty good idea of what sorts of things are possible. There are examples of analysis of interaction networks with geography added in, people interacting through institutions, and network evolution over time – and most of them are working with mind-boggling big datasets.
These leads to some questions about using network analysis to study innovation:
- What can we learn about innovation from some of these colossal data sets?
- Are there new questions that we can ask about the innovation process using these tools?
- How do network dynamics contribute to the evolution of innovation processes?
- What can network analysis tell us about causality when we study innovation?
John and I and our research group are looking at these questions right now – it’s definitely an exciting area to be in right now. Network Analysis I think is still the best way to track communication patterns – the challenge is to link these to actions and outcomes. What do you think?