Posts filed under ‘Network analysis & mapping’
Here is an interesting webinar online conference on “Understanding and supporting networks: learning from theory and practice”:
NGOs join them, researchers collaborate across them, civil society rallies around them, policy makers are influenced by them and donors are funding them. Networks are a day to day reality and an important mode of working for almost all of in the aid sector. They are increasingly being used as a vehicle for delivering different kinds of development interventions, from policy influencing and knowledge generation to changing practices on the ground. But how often do we pause and reflect on what it means to engage in a network or think about how networks work – and how they could work better?
This webinar will present two papers by the Overseas Development Institute that challenge the current ubiquity of networks and offer ideas and reflections for those facilitating networks. Ben Ramalingam will present his paper: Mind the Network Gaps in which he reviews the aid network literature and identfies theoretical lenses which could help advance thinking and practice.
Enrique Mendizabal and Simon Hearn will discuss a revised version of the Network Functions Approach and how it can be used to establish a clear mandate for a network; and hence avoid situations where networks are established without consideration of the costs.
Following the two presentations we will hear comments and discussion from two experts in the field; Rick Davies, an evaluation consultant and moderator of the mande.co.uk website, and Nancy White (www.fullcirc.com), a expert on communities of practice and online facilitation and author of the book: ‘Digital Habitats’.
Thanks to the On Think Tanks blog for bring this to our attention.
The online networking site LinkedIn has introduced quite a new interesting feature where you can make a network map of your contacts – mine is found above. How it works is that it assign colors based on how all of the people in your network — such as people you went to school with, friends or colleagues — are interconnected – so the different colors represent your main “groups”.
As I’ve written about before, I’m very interested in how network mapping can be used in evaluation.
Here are two excellent resources for people wanting to learn more about this research technique:
1) A training course conducted by Steeve Ebener of WHO on “Social Network Analysis, Mapping social relations”. You can view the training slides for eight sessions – and there is really some excellent examples of how network mapping can be used.
2) A manual “Network Mapping as a Diagnostic Tool” by Louise Clark (pdf). A “how to” guide on network mapping and an explanation of how to use a popular network mapping software UCINET (I use it too, it’s the best I’ve found).
Online tools, such as corporate websites, members’ directories or portals increasingly play an important role in communications’ strategies. And of course, they are increasingly important to evaluate.
I just concluded an evaluation of an online tool, created to facilitate the exchange of information amongst a specific community. The tool in question, the Central Register of Disaster Management Capacities is managed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The evaluation methodology that I used for evaluating this online tool is interesting as it combines:
- Content analysis
- Network mapping
- Online survey
- Expert review
- Web metrics
And for once, you can dig into the methodology and findings as the evaluation report is available publicly: View the full report here (pdf) >>
An interesting development in network mapping is the ability to do it automatic and “live”. I’ve been involved in doing network mapping of conferences the old-fashion way – manually (as I’ve written about before). This article in the Technology Review explains how automated network mapping was done at a conference. Simply put, conference participants were given a badge (as pictured above) that tracked their proximity to other badges and sent this data to a central computer which then analysed the data and produced a real time visualisation of the event’s social network (pictured above). Interesting…
Measuring networks can have many applications: how influence works, how change happens within a community, how people meet, etc. I’m interested in measuring networks as indicator of how contacts are established amongst people, particularly in events and conferences, as I’ve written about previously.
In this area, there is a new resource page available on social network analysis and evaluation from M&E news. The page contains many useful resources and examples of network analysis and evaluation for non-profit organisations, education, events and research and development – including one from myself.
(Above image is from a network analysis of a conference, further information is available here>> )
As regular readers will now, I am interested in network mapping and have undertaken some projects where I have used network mapping to assess networks that have emerged as a result of conferences.
Here is quite an interesting tool, Net-Map, an interview-based mapping tool. The creators of this tool state that it is a “tool that helps people understand, visualize, discuss, and improve situations in which many different actors influence outcomes”.
Read further about the tool and view many of the illustrative images here>>
Often we attend conferences where one of the stated objectives is “increase/build/create networking” and I always found it odd that there is never any attempt to measure if networking really took place.
A possible solution is to map networks created by participants at conferences – and compare these networks to those that existed before the conferences.
This is exactly what I have done recently in a network mapping study that you can view here (pdf – 1 MB) and the above image is from. From the LIFT conference of 2007, we mapped the networks of 28 participants (out of 450 total participants) before and after the conferences. We found some quite surprising results:
These 28 participants had considerable networks prior to the conference – reaching some 30% of all participants.
These networks increased after the conference -the 28 people were then connected to some 50% of all participants.
Based on the sample of 28 participants, most participants doubled their networks at LIFT07 – e.g. if you went to the conference knowing five people, you would likely meet another five people at the conference – thus doubling your network to ten.
Although this is only a mapping of 28 participants, it provides some insight into conferences and how networks develop – it’s also quite interesting that 28 people can reach 50% (225 people) of the total conference participants in this case.
View the full report here (pdf – 1 MB).
If you are after further information on network mapping, I recommend Rick Davies’ webpage on network mapping. Although it focuses on development projects it contains a lot of useful information on network mapping in general.
- Introduction to communications evaluation (pdf)
- Evaluating networks (pdf)
- Evaluating communication campaigns (pdf)