There is an old adage which goes something like, "When you throw a pebble into the water, you never know just how far the ripples may reach." That certainly is the case for the 2013 LINKS Summer Workshop on Social Network Analysis being held on the University of Kentucky campus this week (June 3-7).
The LINKS Center for Social Network Analysis is housed within UK's Gatton College of Business and Economics, and is renowned not only across America, but around the world. This year's sixth annual edition of the LINKS summer meeting has 188 participants drawn from such diverse locales as Australia, Brazil, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom and other foreign countries, along with the U.S.
The annual LINKS Center summer workshop provides training in social network analysis (SNA) at both beginner and advanced levels. Not to be confused with social media, SNA is the scientific study of social networks and their dynamics within organizations.
The workshop is taught by a small army of 26 faculty and graduate students which this year includes visiting scholars Filip Agneessens, University of Surrey; Rich DeJordy of Northeastern University; Martin Everett, University of Manchester; Jeff Johnson, East Carolina University; David Krackhardt, Carnegie Mellon University; Marc Smith, Stanford University; and Tom Valente, University of Southern California. When you add in UK's outstanding faculty lineup, which includes Steve Borgatti, Dan Brass, Dan Halgin, Joe Labianca, and Ajay Mehra, the week promises to be enlightening and energetic.
Brass, director of LINKS and the J. Henning Hilliard Endowed Chair in Management in the Gatton College, said interest in the workshop continues to grow exponentially. "We are amazed and heartened by the tremendous response," Brass said. "This will be our biggest and best workshop yet."
A vital component that makes this annual gathering possible is the Gatton College's large concentration of internationally recognized experts in field of social network analysis.
Networks are a set of nodes (actors) and ties representing some relationship, or absence of relationship, between the nodes. The workshop focuses on how to visualize and mathematically analyze these networks using the latest network software such as UCINET, a program developed by Borgatti and colleagues.
"The hallmark of our workshop is clarity," said Borgatti, Paul Chellgren Endowed Chair and Professor in the Gatton College and coordinator of the conference.
Borgatti added, "One of the benefits of hosting this annual workshop is that it further establishes UK as the seat of expertise in social network analysis. This also is a big plus for our graduate students because they get to meet and interact with a variety of scholars in the field. This is a great opportunity for our students to demonstrate their high level of knowledge."
Among the additions to the LINKS workshop this year is a track on social media, joining other areas of focus including the application of social network analysis in health contexts and management contexts.
An aspect which truly is unique to this conference is the opportunity for one-on-one expert consultations. These individual sessions are being greatly expanded this year to run day and night, featuring DeJordy, Johnson, Labianca, and Mehra.