E-mail exchanges within organizations can reveal patterns
of collaboration and leadership that aren't part of any formal
organizational structure, according to recent research at
The researchers --Joshua Tyler, Dennis Wilkinson and Bernardo
Huberman, all of the Information Dynamics Lab --have developed
a methodology for using e-mail logs to find out things like
who's really working with whom, and who truly holds
power within a group.
The researchers studied nearly one million messages collected
over a two-month span.
Informal networks are typically quite difficult to identify,
the researchers say, but e-mail interactions provide ample
data, just by examining the names of the senders and recipients.
It isn't necessary to read messages, which minimizes privacy
Their work is the subject of a recent paper, Email
as Spectroscopy: Automated Discovery of Community Structure
It also drew note from Nature magazine's online
- Jamie Beckett