Optimizing Organizational Performance in an Uncertain World - Part 1 - The Limits of Prediction

How can technology enhance the performance of organizations? How does one characterize organizational performance in a world where our ability to predict is highly constrained? These are two general questions that have been on my mind for some time now. In an effort to clarify my thoughts on the matter and broaden the discussion, I thought I would summarize my view to date, providing the first of what I expect to be a series of blog posts on this general topic.

Exploring Complex, Dynamic Graph Data - Part 3

Since my last post, I’ve been reminded once again of the challenges presented by dynamic graph data. Earlier I wrote about how I’d hoped to exploit graph rewriting operations in Gremlin to efficiently tease out certain classes of communication event sequences in the Enron communication graph. Unfortunately the queries to produce those event sequences are nontrivial in Gremlin even with the abstraction provided through user-defined steps. At present, I think this is due to a mismatch between the representation I’ve chosen and the capabilities offered by Gremlin.

Exploring Complex, Dynamic Graph Data - Part 2

In my first post, I advanced the idea that in order to conduct exploratory data analysis (EDA) we need four basic capabilities: persistence, query, analysis and visualization. Moving forward, I want to talk about specific approaches and capabilities I’ve examined that I believe provide value for EDA. In this post, we’ll focus on mechanisms for persistence and query. If you’ve paid even the slightest attention to recent advances in the database world, it should be clear that the array of available capabilities is ever increasing.

Managing Your Attention Portfolio

Bradford Cross wrote a thought provoking blog post today on the idea of anti-personalization. I encourage you to read his post. In summary, he discusses the concern raised by some that personalization may have negative consequences on our perspective, by only serving to reinforce our current beliefs with additional content that is similar to what we’ve previously consumed. He then shares his initial thoughts on ways to potentially break that cycle.

Exploring Complex, Dynamic Graph Data - Part 1

When I was in graduate school in the late 90s working on computer vision problems, MATLAB was my environment of choice. It provided all the tools I required for analysis and then some. Life was simple and grand. Five years after leaving graduate school, I decided to take a dramatic turn in my research direction. Video surveillance no longer motivated me. Instead, I chose to explore problems at the interface between machine learning and the social sciences.

Categorizing Communication Mediums

When thinking about social dynamics in online social systems, it is important to consider the attributes of the communication medium that bound the set of permissible interactions. This week I’ve been revisiting a set of dimensions along which to characterize communication mediums in general. Here is an expanded set based on past musings from several years ago and more recent discussions. I’m providing a working definition and a set of discrete values for each dimension.

Social Signaling and Language Use

Consider the following email from Tim Belden to John Lavorato and Louise Kitchen. Recall that Tim Belden was indicted for his role in conceiving and executing various financial schemes that allowed Enron to profit significantly from energy markets. Through the analysis of the Enron email collection, we would like to understand who Belden was reporting to and who he was supervising during the time period of the California energy crisis.

Describing Twitter

In the time since I’ve embraced Twitter and defined my personal use case for the platform, I’ve had a number of conversations with people who have asked for my perspective on Twitter. In some cases, the people I spoke with had limited experience with social media. In others, quite the opposite. At times it is difficult to know where to begin. Covering the defining characteristics of the platform is straightforward enough for those unaware. Clarifying the range of implications is far more challenging.

Ranking Relationships, Discovering Evidence

In my introductory post on the topic of social relationship identification (SRI), I talked about the need to develop a collaborative process where the machine guides the analyst in the discovery of relevant social relationships and learns from the context provided by the analyst. Both the analyst and the machine have important and complementary roles to play in the analytic process. The question is what specific form should that collaborative process take?

Interagency Collaboration: The Challenges Continue

Eight years after September 11th, it appears that very little has changed. With the latest attack, we return to the same discussion about the failure of our government to properly integrate bits of information distributed throughout different organizations to form a coherent view of an impending attack. In the course of that discussion, we state the obvious: we need to share. Yet we fail to address the challenges before us to make the obvious a reality.