Mapping the social elite…

Building on yesterday’s post about social network mapping, an associate pointed me to NameBase.org, an astounding on-line database of book and clipping citations of individuals and groups involving:

  • assassinations, organized crime, and scandals;
  • Wall Street and transnational corporations;
  • foreign policy and media establishments;
  • political elites from the Right and Left; and,
  • Cold War history and intelligence.

While the assassination and organized crime connections are fascinating, the really useful stuff for arts organizations comes in the ‘elites’ network…those folks that often serve as board members, major donors, and potential best friends.

For example, you can look up major donor and board member Rita Hauser, recently in the news for leaving the New York Philharmonic board and moving to the Lincoln Center board. By typing her last name into the NameBase ‘proximity search’ (you have to do it, the system doesn’t allow a direct search link), you get a graphic representation of her tightly woven web of interconnections to other elites…all drawn from citations of her name with other names in books, articles, and directories. Some names in the network include former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and beltline politico Max Kampelman, among others.

The cool part of the system is that you can click on any name in the graphic and get a new map of that individual’s connections. You may feel vaguely squeamish poking around in other people’s social networks. As an arts manager, you’ll have to get used to that feeling.

We already knew that the rich and powerful were closely interconnected…especially in major metropolitan areas. NameBase gives us a way to visualize those connections, and perhaps work with them to make connections of our own (building our ‘degrees’ and ‘closeness’ rankings, if not our ‘betweenness’) .


p.s. As long as we’re tracking our connectedness, try my other favorite search to see how connected your organization’s web site is. Go to the Advanced Search feature at AltaVista.com, and enter in the following query in the Boolean search box: ³link:yourdomain.org AND NOT host:yourdomain.org². Don’t use the quotes, and of course, replace ‘yourdomain.org’ with your actual web domain, without the ‘www.’. You’ll get a search result that shows all the other web sites that have hyperlinks to yours (here’s the search for ArtsJournal.com, showing more than 7700 external links…not bad).

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