Information Waves

July 16, 2009
64 Views

Many years ago when I was a researcher in a European think-tank, I wanted to develop an automatic way to map information flows within large organisations. The basic idea was to data mine the corporate email system to discover how new information spreads through the organisation – and along the way map ‘unofficial’ communities of practice. I never got there because I was distracted by an offer to work in Boston on an internet project at MIT’s Sloan School and the Lotus Development Corporation.

I’ve kept this interest in mapping information waves and I has interested to come across the recent work of Jon Kleinberg, Professor of Computer Science at Cornell University in the US. Together with a couple of assistants, he has tracked 1.6 million online news sites, including 20,000 mainstream media sites and a vast array of blogs, over the three-month period leading up to the 2008 presidential election. Analyzing the 90 million articles has revealed the pulse (he calls a ‘heartbeat’) pattern of handoffs between blogs and mainstream media:
PhrasetrackingSmall
Here is a more detailed picture.

I wonder if a similar mapping of information flow within an organisation would lead to better

Many years ago when I was a researcher in a European think-tank, I wanted to develop an automatic way to map information flows within large organisations. The basic idea was to data mine the corporate email system to discover how new information spreads through the organisation – and along the way map ‘unofficial’ communities of practice. I never got there because I was distracted by an offer to work in Boston on an internet project at MIT’s Sloan School and the Lotus Development Corporation.

I’ve kept this interest in mapping information waves and I has interested to come across the recent work of Jon Kleinberg, Professor of Computer Science at Cornell University in the US. Together with a couple of assistants, he has tracked 1.6 million online news sites, including 20,000 mainstream media sites and a vast array of blogs, over the three-month period leading up to the 2008 presidential election. Analyzing the 90 million articles has revealed the pulse (he calls a ‘heartbeat’) pattern of handoffs between blogs and mainstream media:
PhrasetrackingSmall
Here is a more detailed picture.

I wonder if a similar mapping of information flow within an organisation would lead to better analytic use?

My theory is that delivering analytics in ‘harmony’ with the natural ‘heartbeat’ of an organization’s other information flows will lead to more timely and targeted insight – resulting in better decision making. How you would achieve this is a very interesting problem. Is anyone working on a solution?

Link to original post