You are heresocial networks
We just released a policy brief with our initial analysis of the structure of Twitter networks centered on California agriculture. Starting with 153 users identified as relevant to California agriculture by the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, we traced the followers and followees of the initial group to identify approximately 59K Twitter users. The results clearly support the idea that social media outlets like Twitter can be a valuable aspect of strategic communications, education, and outreach about agriculture and the environment. Among the most interesting findings are:
1. The network is divided into 10 communities including climate, food, water, agriculture, plant sciences, politics, international development, viticulture, gardening, and animal welfare.
Social network research often focuses on the core of a network instead of the periphery. There are practical and theoretical reasons for this. The practical reason is that it is often difficult to measure the periphery of the network, for example peripheral actors are less likely to answer a survey or be mentioned by survey respondents. The theoretical reason is that many people think all of the “action” is in the core. For example, in policy networks, the core actors might have the most political resources and therefore have control over how policy decisions are made.
An important goal at the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior is using basic research on environmental policy to make an impact on real-world decisions. We took a bit of an unusual strategy for this at the 7th Annual Political Networks conference held last week in Montreal at McGill university. The picture features graduate student Matthew (Mateo) Robbins and me holding the poster he made for his work on spiny lobster management in Honduras. We are standing in the supporter section for the Montreal Impact, a Major League Soccer team, which that night beat the New England Revolution 3-1. Needless to say, among many French soccer chants and curse words (we don't speak French...), there were some Canadiens with some very strange looks on their faces when they saw Mateo's awesome poster.
We just completed a paper on Extension 3.0 that will be submitted to the journal Society and Natural Resources. We are officially circulating the pre-publication as a CEPB white paper (see attachment). Here is the abstract:
CEPB graduate student Susie Pike won the 2012 Friends of ITS-Davis Outstanding MS Thesis award! Good job Susie; you've set the bar high for your dissertation.
I just returned from a nice junket to beautiful (at least in the fall…) Maine where I gave talks at Bowdoin College and University of Maine. Both institutions were impressive for different reasons, and I met a lot of fun people. The Q&A periods of the talks highlighted three important and hard questions about network science that all of us should think about how to answer.
For the past week, I’ve been helping to facilitate a workshop on the use of remote sensing for climate change adaptation in East Africa. The workshop is actually part of a NASA and USAID research fellowship program for university students from all over eastern and southern Africa, who are carrying out projects on climate change dimensions of food security, flood control and biodiversity conservation. We’ve been based at the headquarters of the Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD). Also based here is a program called SERVIR-Africa and together, the organization and the program have been leading a number of efforts to increase adaptive capacity in East Africa.
Today for lab meeting the CEPB crew is reading Orjan Bodin and Maria Tengo's excellent new paper "Disentangling Intangible Social-Ecological Systems". These two scholars have been international leaders in developing theoretical and empirical approaches to studying social-ecological systems (SES). In my opinion, the concept of SES is one of the most important ideas for furthering our understanding of environmental governance and policy, and how social decisions link to environmental outcomes.
The sustainable viticulture team visited Napa Valley last week to seek wisdom from our advisory council about the design of our study, and present some initial findings at the Green Wine Summit. During the course of the day, I heard some of the most interesting anecdotes about social networks and sustainable agriculture that I've yet encountered: