Social Cartography

(via Spencer Ackerman) “Jonathan Stray, an energetic blogger, has constructed a social-network chart detailing the connections between the so-called Counterinsurgents. It has some errors — I’m assuming ‘Nathniel Flick’ is Nate Fick of the Center for a New American Security — and as Abu Muqawama says, “a better graph than the one this dude came up with would have been far more extensive and incestuous.” But a few rounds of crowdsourcing from the comment threads of AM or Small Wars Journal can probably fix that. … The truth is that the military and intelligence apparatuses use these kind of org charts frequently when trying to map terrorist networks or tribal ties. And it’s never been clear to me why, or even indeed whether, the social cartographers really have faith in such a flawed model or if, instead, there’s a recognition that the social networks operate as a placeholder for actual information about the different nodes on the chart. I’m also not saying that it’s a mistake to try to understand the counterinsurgents as a distinct cohort — that would be pretty stupid and hypocritical of me. All I’m saying is that viewing the Network itself tells you deceptively little.” Just emailed Spencer to ask about what kind of methodology these Social Cartographers use for mapping networks/weighing connections. I feel like it might be fun/useful to apply these tools to other “networks”, in the interest of isomorphism…