Write a short essay discussing/critiquing the work of Moreno (in Freeman), Mark Lombardi, and another piece of your choosing. You will want to discuss whether the images are legible, whether the information given is well encoded, etc. Are the features described in Garton et al visible? Which are and which are not? How would you depict them if they are not visible (please illustrate your response)

The social network approach facilitates the study of how information flows through direct and indirect network ties, how people acquire resources and how different groups operate. Visualization of networks historically has been instrumental in analyzing and understanding complex social dynamics in different communities and organizational set ups. Today, it has been found to extend its functions to help us get a better sense of the deluge of media information available.

Moreno pioneered in the field of mapping sociograms and in my opinion, his diagrams were very effective in only so much as studying the interrelationships and the structure of networks. His various illustration methods like using different colors to draw multigraphs and variations in shapes and locations of points are very useful in studying qualitative aspects of relationships. A possible useful application for his ‘directed graph' technique could be in charting relationships and structure in an organizational setup. But a significant drawback of his technique was that one could only identify ‘social groups' and types of interrelationships and not social ‘positions' in a network. Later works such as the ‘target sociograms' and the ‘lady bountiful' were based on methods that depicted the sociometric status of points.

Lombardi's work is also a good example of sociograms that attempt to depict both social groups and positions. His diagrams visualize social groups (for example the different groups and nexus of swindlers in the George W. Bush, Harken Energy and Jackson Stephens ) and social positions (by means of textual notes). Thinking in the same vein, the terrorist network diagrams by Valdis Krebs, illustrate social groups (for example, the indispensable pilots' clique) and also calculate social positions (for example, the status of a player as the ring leader and the many other co-conspirators) with the help of line and point method and computed network metrics.

An important aspect of Lombardi's work that makes it stand out besides its artistic appeal is his use of two media (graphics and text) in the same 2-dimentional environment to depict different aspects of the network. The different aspects of the network structure identified by him like the time line, direction of cash flow and identity of participants are also unique choices. The dimension of the time line in his work makes the social network analysis more dynamic and comprehensible.

With the use of computation, the possibilities of analyzing social networks are immense as is evident in the Terrorist network diagram where network metrics like ‘average path length', ‘closeness', ‘betweeness' and ‘degrees' help in predicting typical behaviors in covert operations networks. This particular network diagram uses many of the aforementioned charting techniques like variation in connecting lines and color of points to identify groups and strength of relationships. It is interesting to note the author's use of the metaphor ‘serpent' to describe the shape of the terrorist network. Could it possibly suggest that sometimes mapping a ‘specialized' network can reveal the underlying theme of the network?

Notes on my personal network diagram:

The sociogram represents my closest to weakest links amongst myself, my family, friends and work mates. There are three groups of contacts, family (circles), friends from undergrduate school(empty squares), friends and work mates in MIT (filled squares) and my friends in MIT whom I know from my undergraduate school(filled square outlined by another square). The thick red lines denote strongest links, single redlines denote intermediate links and the dashed lines denote weakest links in the network. As is evident, I do not have any strong links to any of the links of my strongest links. Most of the sub-groups interconnected by strong links have weak links or no links to the rest of the group members.

My personal strongest links (that are few in comparison to my intermediate and weak links) exist in my family or amongst my undergraduate connections. The fact that I have many strong connections with my undergraduate contacts and none with my MIT contacts indicates the importance of the amount of time spent with each. Based on the same concept, there are many other strong links amongst my undergraduate group of friends.

Although my group of MIT contacts is very densely and closely knit, since most of us meet each other daily or are in touch electronically through mass emails etc., it possesses only one strong link amongst all the contacts.

An interesting thing to note is that my husband (the green circle on my left) and I were introduced to each other for the first time by our common weak links.