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Networks: readings, notes and links

I’ve been soaking up quite a bit of social network literature recently as it is becoming the central theme in my PhD planning. As a focus for analysis it can often be found sharing space with discussions on social capital, yet the events literature tends to favour the latter – there is plenty of scope to consider the networks that exist around and between festivals and events.

As Christmas readies itself to claim the hearts and minds of the nation for a day or two I’m using this post to aggregate a few links, tucking them away for future reference.
Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler’s excellent Connected (@connected_book) is required reading. Thorough, lively, full of great stories and keen to demonstrate that a better understanding of social networks may help us explain a vast array of habits, practices and cultural norms. Here are some links to their website and the book itself on Amazon.co.uk. Those with little to do over the festive season could fill some time looking through the array of videos, links and lecture slides on their site. If you’d rather some content to pick up on the go, here’s a podcast lecture from The RSA.

Speaking of The RSA, a recent post – Networking by numbers – from Gaia Marcus (@la_gaia) on the RSA site flags up a current project ‘to measure the social impact of public services and civic interventions and to allow people to see their own personal networks’. As part of an empowerment agenda the plan is to move away from traditional forms of social research, with their attendant inconsistencies and problems, towards something more personal, verifiable and up to the minute. It is a project to keep an eye on.

Moving the conversation closer to my preferred stomping ground of arts festivals, The Guardian has published a couple of pieces under the banner ‘Digital culture: hierarchy to network’: part one and part two. Written by Patrick Hussey of Arts & Business (@PatrickRiot) they feel like the very outer dermis of what he has to say, but they contain plenty of links to further work and projects. They are also a sign that the networking theme is now entering the mainstream of cultural management, gaining momentum as a topic demanding attention and resources. It also suggests some pretty solid foundations on which to build my own research in the months ahead.

Finally, with some of the most appealing images going, a post from Martin Hawksey (@mhawksey) on visualising the Twitter archive of an event (in this case a conference). Some 3,000 tweets have been brought together – I must confess that I’m somewhat in the dark about this has been done, despite the guidance notes provided by Martin! (There’s much more for me to learn about this.) I do know that it’s good fun playing around with this

My recent PhD discussions and thoughts are focusing me towards trying to describe the social networks that exist around the production of a festival. The tools and the maths exist to make this possible, whether virtual or real. Where does power lie in these networks, how closely do they reflect the stakeholder maps that underpin the modern trend for partnership delivery, and what can festival producers do to support a healthy social community around their events? Taking this a step further, albeit a big step, what characteristics does a festival city like Edinburgh have – what are implications for individual events, the wider festival economy/ies and policy makers?
Image: ‘Connected: Amazing Power of Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives’

Top 10 places for New Year's Eve traditions (courtesy of The Guardian)

Rhodri Thomas and the politics of events evaluation