Swarmcast: How Jihadist Networks Maintain a Persistent Online Presence has been lingering on my desktop for several weeks. Social network analysis papers often draw my eye, in particular when they focus on counter-insurgency methods, and this thirteen page work summed up things I’ve known experientially for the last couple years.
The report makes several references to Arquilla & Ronfeldt’s The Advent of Netwar(1996) and Networks and Netwars(2001), two seminal works on future conflict that are must-reads for anyone interested in this field.
The data science angle of the paper is quite familiar to me. This is clearly output from Gephi.
This paper contains significant knowledge of the particulars of the network, much like in Robust Action and the Rise of the Medici 1400 – 1434 by Padgett & Ansell, the famous paper on early Renaissance Florentine politics that every budding social network analyst will recognize, but which very few of us have read. There is implicit information on the structure and development of the network, but it’s cast in human terms, rather than in advanced social network modeling methods.
I’ve been delving deeper into those methods, as I limp through my third attempt at Matt Jackson’s Social and Economic Networks: Models and Analysis. The modeling component is mathematical; one does not come away from this class with a clutch of tools that lend themselves to screen shots for blog posts or papers, unlike the earlier undergraduate class taught by Lada Adamic, which has since vanished from Coursera.
This paper and my earlier reading today, The Turner Legacy by J.M. Berger, are conveying a message. I either need to go broader, which I am doing in the Tableau Specialization I just started, or go deeper. I’m at a point in this field where I need to buckle down and submit properly cited academic work to peer reviewed journals, or otherwise elevate my game.
Four more weeks till the election is over and the Jackson class finishes concurrent with that. The Tableau Specialization runs until April but that’s fairly low impact. Looks like Q4 of 2016 will follow my usual pattern; a time of introspection and deciding what to do next. Perhaps 2017 or 2018 will bring papers with “Neal Rauhauser” first among the authors. We shall see …