The Map is not the Territory

September 10, 2009
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The word is not the thing, the map is not the territory is a key principle of General Semantics and non-Aristotolian logic. But is the data the thing? Is the social network the person? We know that the data of a social network is not the person – but it is valuable. Today, I am going to share some thoughts on my social networks and ask for yours.

Let’s start with work – this is a work blog. My linkedin profile tells me a little bit about my work life. I am directly connected to 513 people and they are connected to 88,000. It shows my contacts by geography and industry. New York, Washington and San Francisco are the highest ranked as are Telecommunications, Marketing/Advertising and Information technology.

Map-is-not-Territory1

What is interesting is that my network does reflect a lot of my work history. Ten years at MCI, 3 years living in the New York areas and 5 years living in the DC area. But it also reflects where my friends have gone to work such as the Bay Are …


The word is not the thing, the map is not the territory is a key principle of General Semantics and non-Aristotolian logic. But is the data the thing? Is the social network the person? We know that the data of a social network is not the person – but it is valuable. Today, I am going to share some thoughts on my social networks and ask for yours.

Let’s start with work – this is a work blog. My linkedin profile tells me a little bit about my work life. I am directly connected to 513 people and they are connected to 88,000. It shows my contacts by geography and industry. New York, Washington and San Francisco are the highest ranked as are Telecommunications, Marketing/Advertising and Information technology.

Map-is-not-Territory1

What is interesting is that my network does reflect a lot of my work history. Ten years at MCI, 3 years living in the New York areas and 5 years living in the DC area. But it also reflects where my friends have gone to work such as the Bay Area.

A cool tool for social network visualization is available on Facebook, it is called Nexus.

Map-is-not-Territory3

 

The chart above shows a lot of the links I have in Facebook. The dots are all friends and different nodes. As a marketer I could use this information to develop a lot of insight if I knew my behavior because I could theoretically predict the behavior of the people in the graph.

 Map-is-not-Territory2

When I look at Twitter it is kind of interesting because the people / groups I am following are kind of a reflection of my tastes, but what about the people that are following me? What does that say about them.

I am following 85 twits: Being followed by 54:

 

I have to say that I love twitter, not so much for getting my messages out, but to get quickly and succinctly information from people and organizations I find interesting. My twitter list probably most accurately reflects me – to some extent – because it is so active and real-time. I wish I had more time for it because as you weed through there is something there.

Okay, maybe the social network is not the person and we proved that social networking does not follow Aristotolian logic. I know that is a big surprise.

But think about this data – I didn’t know this much about me even a year ago. It is kind of cool to find out about yourself… umm maybe.

Of course all this data comes at a cost – if you google me and go to page five you can find out that Picabo Street beat me by 9 seconds in a ski race at Vail in 2006. This stuff never goes away.

 

Paul Barrett

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