Personality in Network Analysis

For me, I have a hard time pinning exactly what I like and who I am as an individual. My mind is easily distracted I know that, but I’ve never really figured out if I’m quite a visual or verbal learner, social or shy, indecisive or lazy, a multiple-choice test taker or better short answerer, a cancer or a leo…the list goes on and on..I guess one could call me a humanist. I’m filled with “fuzzy thoughts and feelings,” as Professor Posner likes to say. I would like to be able to describe and interpret all these characteristics at the same time, but really should stop and think about them individually.

The reason for my rant of my “struggle” through life is because of a quote from Scott Weingart’s article, Demystifying Networks. He states, “Humanistic data are almost by definition uncertain, open to interpretation, flexible, and not easily definable.” Aka the daily battle young adolescence and college kids go through.

However, when it comes to network analysis, it generally deals with one or a small amount of types of things. Scott uses the example of a book and a type of book is called a node. Computer scientists work with only one or a few types of nodes when creating network analysis softwares.

While reading this article I start to think about how I wish my life was more simple like a node. “Node types are concrete; your object either is or is not a book.” I like this interpretation because it would be so much easier to own and know unchanging characteristics. Humanists struggle with using this software because they want to put all of the data into one place.

Humanists usually care more about the differences than the regularities. This is helpful for a humanist because it shows how objects are unique rather than what makes it similar. However, that expansion of information they are likely to lose by defining their objects as nodes.This also reminded me of when I first got to UCLA I attacked the career center. They have personality tests there to help one figure out what type of personality you are to fit with what job. “Edges” are a way to make these connect relationships. A “dense” network is apparently rarely useful to use. ‘The ability to cut away just enough data to make the network manageable, but not enough to lose information, is as much an art as it is a science.” I really like this interpretation of bring the math and humanities together.