Dagstuhl Perspectives Workshop: Social, Supply-Chain, Administrative, Business, Commerce, Political networks: A multi-discipline perspective
published on Monday, May 7th 2012

The information society is shaped by the increasing presence of networks in various manifestations. Increasingly efficient computer networks are regarded as a significant enabler for the process of change towards networks of any size and complexity. The objective of this perspectives workshop is it to identify, systematize, and advance these factors based on multi-disciplinary views. The results are expected to yield highly significant input for industrial research and the daily business of high-tech companies, as well as for the information society.

We focus on three fundamental aspects of networks to analyze and to consider the design and behavior of networks in the Information Society:

  • Drivers: Networks can be regarded as systems that are continuously shaped by their environment. In fact, the emergent structure and properties of networks are subject to self-organizing processes - not unlike evolutionary processes - that create structure in the form of temporarily stable patterns of interaction between actors.
  • Cohesion: In a general context cohesion describes the phenomenon of (economic and/or social) solidarity, or, in other words, the intention of actors to act in the middle of their neighbors. Structural cohesion is the sociological and graph-theoretical conception for evaluating the behavior of social groups and networks.
  • Dynamics: A dynamic system is a system that changes its state over time. Concerning different network application areas, we regard the dynamics of a system as the change of states a system takes. On the one hand, we regard a change of state in a network as the exchange of entities (information, goods, etc.) between its actors. On the other hand, the change of state in a network is regarded as the change of the underlying system’s structure over time, i.e., its evolution.

The resulting research question of the workshop is: "How do online networks evolve, how can they be conceptualized, and how can they be consciously designed and influenced?"

The workshop was held on Schloss Dagstuhl from May 1st to May 4th 2012. Amongst others the NSS project partners from Hamilton (New Zealand) and Münster joint the workshop in order to further deepen their collaboration. Schloss Dagstuhl - Leibniz Center for Informatics (German: Schloss Dagstuhl - Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik GmbH)  is the world's premier venue for informatics. World-class scientists, promising young researchers, and practioners come together to exchange their knowledge and to discuss their research findings. Please refer to the Dagstuhl Webpage for more information on the workshop and press releases.

Amongst others, our NSS research partner Dr. Stuart Dillon (Waikato School auf Management, New Zealand) attended the workshop, which provided a first class opportunity to follow up on our joint research endeavors.