Blogging was where we began, and how we built our company so we have preserved this archive to show how our thinking developed over a decade of developing the use of social technology inside organisations

Using email artefacts to map communities of practice

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In an article entitled E-mail reveals real leaders, Philip Ball looks at how HP Labs have experimented with the analysis of email archives to map the real commuities of practice that exist in a large organisation
The researchers have developed a way to use e-mail exchanges to build a map of the structure of an organization. The map shows the teams in which people actually work, as opposed to those they are assigned to.
The technique can also reveal who is at the heart of each sub-group. These people often correspond with company-designated leaders such as project managers. But unofficial de facto leaders can also emerge. The approach might even help to pinpoint the heads of criminal or terrorist networks.
It all sounds very interesting and a useful application for the social network analysis tools we linked to recently. It is just a shame that every US-based article about social network analysis at the moment feels a need to conclude that the approach could be used to “identify terrorist networks” – surely we can imagine other more productive applications?

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