Linking Social and Communication Networks

The goal of communications project is to understand the nature of communication-- within a social communication network, within a computer communication network, within a telecommunication network, and the integration of all networks. Sending an email sends a message between people, but also sends the physical text of the message from the sender's computer to the receiver's computer. Sending the physical message involves the transmission of the data from computer, to router, to gateway, through the computing infrastructure, to finally the receiver's computer.

Current work puts the social network at odds with the underlying communications network, and vice versa:

  • "The social network can determine its needs if the communication network identifies what is available"
  • "The communications network can identify what is possible if the social network identifies what it wants"

In one dimension of this research, the type of message has implications-- such as issues of timeliness, security of message contents, privacy, reliability, and even size of message and intent. For example, the amount of information to be conveyed is important: To convey a message that a biological hazard has been released in a building cannot be conveyed by ringing a fire alarm. While ringing a fire alarm will get the occupants to leave the building, they may inadvertantly choose a path into the biological hazard. The message is too large (biological hazard) for the media (fire alarm). In another example, the timeliness of the information is important: To alert a community about a water contamination which would require the consumers to boil the water, there is an issue of timeliness. Sending emails may not be enough if the members of the community do not check for email regularly.

This research leverages other projects to help understand "who" we communicate with (*ORA) and "where" (*ORA-GIS), "what" we communicate about (AutoMap), and "how" we communicate (Construct) along with the implications of the choice of media. The additional "when" we communicate is leveraged using Loom, currently being integrated into *ORA.

Linking Social and Communication Networks is also a part of the CASOS Summer Institute. At the CASOS Summer Institute, CASOS Ph.D. students have the chance to display and discuss their projects and work. The 2008 CASOS Summer Institute posters for Linking Social and Communication Networks are: