INSNA 2008 – Social Network Analysts Conference, Florida – Call for Papers

The call for papers for the 2008 Social Network Analysts Conference, INSNA, is out. The conference will take place January, 22-27, 2008 in St. Pete Beach, Florida.

Deadline for abstracts is October 5, 2007.


Guidelines to review/discuss papers

I am pulling together different ideas on how to give helpful feedback as a discussant or reviewer of other people’s work and am starting a list here. Helpful comments are more than welcome and will be added to the list! 

  1. Simon Fraser University, Center for Canadian Studies

Role of the DiscussantThe discussant should state the key point or thesis of each paper, mention the major points, reasons, innovation, or evidence that support the overall argument and assess the papers in terms of the major theme of the conference. Further, to stay within the spirit of this multidisciplinary colloquium the discussant should prepare questions that stimulate fair, open, and inclusive discussion.    

Guidelines for presentations and discussants from Grenoble University: 



Guidelines for presentations

 Chair / Discussant guidelines– Arrive at the session room at the latest five minutes prior to the scheduled starting time and introduce yourself to the presenters.- A room attendant has been appointed to every session room. It is this person’s responsibility to take care of the audiovisual equipment and to assist you and the presenters at any time. This room attendant will introduce himself/herself to you at the start.- Inform presenters of the maximum of time they can use for their paper presentation. This time has been fixed to 15mins and includes a 5 minute question time. A 15min discussion slot has been allocated at the end of every session (these typically include 5 papers) . Introduce the orange and red card system to them (see below).- In introducing the session – please be brief – tell the audience how many papers will be presented, how long each presentation will be and when there will be time for questions.- For each paper, introduce the author and the title of the paper.- In order to facilitate time management of the presentations, a set of orange and red cards will be at your disposal. Show the orange card to the presenter when 5 minutes presentation time is left. Show the red card when time is over.- In managing the question-and-answer-time, please ask questioners to identify themselves and to keep their comments as short as possible to allow the presenters to respond in full.- Please ensure the session to finish in time. Sessions that overrun will affect next sessions.- In case you are presenting a paper yourself during the session you are chairing, we strongly recommend that this be done at the end of the session, even if this means altering the formal programme slightly. The efficient management of the session will benefit from it. When presenting your paper ask one of the other presenters to manage your time using the cards.


APPAM discussant guidelines from the APPAM website:

Guidelines for Discussants APPAM also sends a detailed letter to all session discussants by early September of each year. This letter informs the discussants of their responsibilities, and also provides them with basic information about their sessions.  It reminds them of time limits, and adds these further points:  Discussants are encouraged to make integrative comments rather than paper-by-paper critiques.  In many cases, very specific or detailed critics can be shared with paper authors outside of the session. 

  • Discussants should, if possible, contribute to the policy focus of the session.  
  • In general, discussant remarks about each paper should deal with the major issues that enhance or undermine the paper’ contributions, reserving minor issues for direct communication with the authors. 
  • Discussants are encouraged to help shape the audience participation in the session by identifying key points worthy of further analysis and discussion. 


From ASNA 2006 conference organizers:

  • Is the theoretical background coherent (and state of the art?)
  • Is there a clear research question?
  • Is the empirical “transformation” adequate?
  • Is there a red line in the paper / logical structure?
  • Is the language comprehensible?

 From Maria:

  1. pointing out its strengths and its contribution to the panel/literature/field
  2. constructively addressing its weaknesses
  3. providing suggestions for improvement along those lines.If you have to discuss several papers, an obvious addition to the above would be to compare the papers.

Making Sense of Social Networks

I just heard about this recent symposium on “Helping Users Make Sense of Social Networks” organized by Ben Schneiderman and Adam Perer from the University of Maryland, MD as part of the Human-Computer Interaction Lab’s Annual Symposium. They provide ppts/pdfs of the presentations on their website – very helpful!

Impressions from Cybersymposium @ HBS: Everything is social networking and social sharing

I attended the Cyberposium 12 on “Need directions? Mapping future technologies” today at Harvard Business School . As a researcher mainly interested in Social Networks and Web 2.0 applications, I was mostly attracted by the panels Web 2.0 and future directions of Telecom applications.

This was my first “vendor-only” conference on the topics of Web 2.0 and social networks and I was interested to hear what kind of new applications Google, Yahoo, AOL, Palm, Motorola etc. would have to offer. Interestingly enough – not too many new things – except: everything is social networking and sharing – even those applications which weren’t’ originally designed for that purpose. Baseline of all discussions: everything is sharing – everything is social networking.

Metrics for estimating the scalability of social networking platforms

Another important take away is: there are no measures so far on how to estimate or analyze the scalability of social networking websites. Even the VCs haven’t found satisfying measures – except of course current number of subscriptions – to understand if, when and how a social networking website will be successful. Platforms such as Friendster haven’t managed to follow through after they have initially attracted a lot of users – who are not coming back. Orkut is mainly geographically active (Brazil and recently also India). Most of the others are focusing on a specific market segment, see for example MySpace. One metric can be the costs of switching to another platform.

Next wave

It seems to me, that we can learn a lot about all those markets that are usually excluded from the well-known western social networking sites. I learned that there are a couple of immensely successful social networking platforms in Asia, such as Mixi in Japan (invitation only), or Cyworld in South-Korea. Both in their local language and I couldn’t find an English page. In both platforms, revenues are based on transactions, such as the sales of ringtones, virtual goods, etc.

Food for thought/research

From a social network analyst perspective – I am wondering, why are people creating new ties online, abondoning their “network” (I built up a whole network of people on Friendster, but hardly look at it anymore…), switch to other platforms (I am personally using openBc now) or reconnect with their existing or previous networks on specific platforms (recently I made my way back to Friendster, just because they have started to bombard me with emails to let me know that Kendall has changed his picture – interesting to see how he looks four years later).

Together with Thomas Langenberg, from the EPFL Lausanne, I have written a paper on these four phases and what we already know from the literature on these phases (mostly insights from the offline world). We will start to collect data and analyze these questions soon (come the new year).

HICSS 2007: Potentials of Social Networks for Knowledge Management with regard to the Development of Stable Competences and Dynamic Capabilities

Our paper on “Potentials of Social Networks for Knowledge Management with regard to the Development of Stable Competences and Dynamic Capabilities – Conceptualization and Case Study Results” was accepted at the HICSS 2007 conference. My co-authors are PD Harald von Kortzfleisch and Christian Proll (both University of Koblenz, Germany).

Here is the abstract:

Social knowledge networks are introduced as a strategic means in order to balance between the tensions of the concepts of organizational core compe­tences and dynamic capabilities from a knowledge management perspective.  A facilitator for the develop­ment of the respective framework is the precise distinc­tion between explicit and non-explicit knowledge.  Social knowledge networks are informal with regard to their very character but offer the opportunity to en­hance the advantages of stability and reliability of organizational core competences as well as flexibility and dynamics of dynamic capabilities.  The results of a case study in the automotive and machine building industry confirm the viability of the new framework by looking at social network ties in the IT department on the basis of information sharing and problem-oriented advice.  Overall point of reference is IT Gov­ernance, especially the ITIL standard.”