Paper: Improving Data Visualization for High-Density Information Transfer in Social Network Analysis Tools

Chris Rivinus (Parsons Brinckerhoff), Peter Baloh (University of Ljubljana) and I have authored a paper for the itAIS VI Conference -  Toward Fusion in the Interconnected World: Exploring the Connection between Organizations and Technology (October 2-3, 2009). The paper titled, “Improving Data Visualization for High-Density Information Transfer in Social Network Analysis Tools”,  examines highlights from the last 30 years of dialogue about visualization as a basis for decision making in urban design, and suggests three areas in which SNA software designers should focus efforts to evolve more effective tools for organizational and IS design: realism, detail and changes over time.

One of the core issues in data and knowledge transfer is the appropriateness of transfer mechanisms. Often, understanding of problems and decision making by knowledge workers, can be improved by appropriate information and knowledge visualization. As businesses turn towards collaboration and innovation for competitive advantage, Social Network Analysis (SNA) tools have provided means of understanding existing employee network dynamics including the pathway of information shared between individual members. However, these tools have not been widely adopted for the purposes of organizational and information systems (IS) design. Possible explanations as to why SNA has not been more widely adopted as a design tool can be found in literature focusing on visualization as a modeling and decision making tool for urban design. This paper examines highlights from the last 30 years of dialogue about visualization as a basis for decision making in urban design, and suggests three areas in which SNA software designers should focus efforts to evolve more effective tools for organizational and IS design: realism, detail and changes over time. This discourse not only furthers applicability of SNA as a tool on its own by proposing how to design improved technological solutions, but it also suggests areas of exploration for IS product development generally

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