Practice Capital Concept Applied through Social Network Analysis to the C-Span Video Archive

Enhancing the C-Span Archive Site with Practice Capital Indicators
Enhancing the C-Span Archive Site with Practice Capital Indicators

A new concept, practice capital, which extends the concept of social capital to collaborative projects is proposed in my chapter to the upcoming volume on the research significance of the C-Span Video Archive. I should mention that the archive is hosted in West Lafayette, has a special partnership with Purdue University, and is headed by my colleague, Robert Browning. The concept will demonstrate how video recordings can be used as raw materials for social network analysis of debates. 

In this context practice is defined in rhetorical terms. A debate is a series of arguments about a topic. It is a hortatory social practice. Talking to other members of the debate is not as important as engaging the topic at the central point of the debate to practically change opinions or a state of fact. Finding the right moment to say something is a particular phronesis (practical reason) skill, which is a core component of any rhetorical and some might say social practice (Flyvbjerg, 2001; Geertz, 2001). Practice in this context entails all the activities of all the actors engaged in a debate, regardless if they address each other communicatively direct or not. The practice space of a debate is similar to a worksite. It is not necessary for the work to progress that the workers talk to each other. Important is that the workers do their job and participate as much as they can in the activities required by their building project.

To capture practice capital all that is said is connected to all that was said by other speakers by measuring the distance in time between what was said and by moderating the link by the amount of what was said, using a gravitational pull formula: M*m/d2. Once the ties are established, you can measure the degree of centrality for each team member, which becomes his or her level of practice capital. More central members have the greatest influence on the practice.

Bibliographic details about the paper

Matei, S. A. (forthcoming). A social network analysis “practice capital” approach to enhance the C-Span Archive with meta-communication data to support public affairs debates and data journalism In R. X. Browning (Ed.), The C-SPAN Archives: An interdisciplinary resource for discovery, learning, and engagement. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press.  (anticipated publication date: 2014)

Abstract: The paper argues that the C-Span archive is not a mere repository of moving pictures. It can also be seen as a one of a kind “big data” repository. If processed from a “practice capital” perspective with quantitative and network analytic tools, such data can significantly extend the capabilities of C-Span archives by identifying the central actors in a debate and their ability to sway it. The proposed approach may serve the public interest though API tools that support third party development of visualization and analytic apps, which can lead to more informed debates and new forms of data driven journalism. 

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Sorin Adam Matei

Sorin Adam Matei - Professor of Communication at Purdue University - studies the relationship between information technology and social groups. He published papers and articles in Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Information Society, and Foreign Policy. He is the author or co-editor of several books. The most recent is Structural differentation in social media. He also co-edited Ethical Reasoning in Big Data,Transparency in social media and Roles, Trust, and Reputation in Social Media Knowledge Markets: Theory and Methods (Computational Social Sciences) , all three the product of the NSF funded KredibleNet project. Dr. Matei's teaching portfolio includes online interaction, and online community analytics and development classes. His teaching makes use of a number of software platforms he has codeveloped, such as Visible Effort . Dr. Matei is also known for his media work. He is a former BBC World Service journalist whose contributions have been published in Esquire and several leading Romanian newspapers. In Romania, he is known for his books Boierii Mintii (The Mind Boyars), Idolii forului (Idols of the forum), and Idei de schimb (Spare ideas).

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