I published a new paper this month in the journal Field Methods. The article is called \”Simplifying the Personal Network Name Generator: Alternatives to Traditional Multiple and Single Name Generators\” and was co-authored with a student of mine, Alexandra Marin, now assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto. This issue of Field Methods is a special issue devoted to challenges in collecting personal network data. Modesty aside, it is a great issue with a number of very important contributions.
Here is the table of contents:

Barry Wellman \”Challenges in Collecting Personal Network Data: The Nature of Personal Network Analysis\”

Bernie Hogan, Juan Antonio Carrasco, and Barry Wellman \”Visualizing Personal Networks: Working with Participant-aided Sociograms\”

Christopher McCarty, José Luis Molina, Claudia Aguilar, and Laura Rota \”A Comparison of Social Network Mapping and Personal Network Visualization\”

Alexandra Marin and Keith N. Hampton \”Simplifying the Personal Network Name Generator: Alternatives to Traditional Multiple and Single Name Generators\”

Yang-chih Fu \”Contact Diaries: Building Archives of Actual and Comprehensive Personal Networks\”

Scott L. Feld, J. Jill Suitor, and Jordana Gartner Hoegh \”Describing Changes in Personal Networks over Time\”

The abstract for Ali\’s and my contribution:
Researchers studying personal networks often collect network data using name generators and name interpreters. We argue that when studying social support, multiple name generators ensure that researchers sample from a multidimensional definition of support. However, because administering multiple name generators is time consuming and strains respondent motivation, researchers often use single name generators. We compared network measures obtained from single generators to measures obtained from a six-item multiple-name generator. Although some single generators provided passable estimates of some measures, no single generator provided reliable estimates across a broad spectrum of network measures. We then evaluated two alternative methods of reducing respondent burden: (1) the MMG, a multiple generator using the two most robust name generators and (2) the MGRI, a six-item name generator with name interpreters administered for a random subset of alters. Both the MMG and the MGRI were more reliable than single generators when measuring size, density, and mean measures of network composition or activity, though some single name generators were more reliable for measures consisting of sums or counts.

A copy of the paper can be downloaded from the publications section of my website.

In a response to today’s brief Blackberry outage, I was quoted in an ABC News article by Scott Mayerowitz:

\”Keith Hampton, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania\’s Annenberg School for Communication, said that people depend on devices, such as the BlackBerry, to stay in contact with business connections, and weaker social ties.

\’Really close social ties — those who give us warm hugs and a broad spectrum of support — we know we maintain contact with them through a whole bunch of communication mediums,\’ Hampton said. \’We don\’t just e-mail our parents, our brothers and sisters.\’

E-mail allows people to talk to larger and larger circles of business contacts, and for those contacts, he said, \’It can be devastating and difficult\’ when that form of communication breaks down.

\’E-mail has opened up the opportunity to have much more instantaneous contact, to have much more brief exchanges than we did in the past and possibly to maintain a greater number of social ties than we ever have before,\’ Hampton said.

But he called the idea of being addicted to a BlackBerry \’ridiculous.\’

\’You can\’t be addicted to communication,\’ Hampton said. \’We\’re all social animals. We want to communicate with those around us. And the BlackBerry is just one of many types of communication that help facilitate that.\’\”

Read the full article here.