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Dr John Galloway UTS Occasional Address

Chief Scientist and Founder, NetMap Analytics Pty Ltd
Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Business, UTS

BA (NE), MA, PhD (Mich St)

Dr John Galloway addressed graduates from the Faculty of Business at the Great Hall, City campus, University of Technology, Sydney on Tuesday 25 September 2007, 2.30pm.

Dr John Galloway, who is Chief Scientist at NetMap Analytics Pty Ltd. He is also an Adjunct Professor at UTS in the Faculty of Business, and Co-Director of the Complex Systems Research Centre.

Dr John Galloway founded NetMap Analytics in 1991, pioneering Node and Link Analysis (NALA), and developing the NetMap visualisation software technology and 'Train of Thought' methods of data analysis.

His career has been dedicated to developing NetMap and Train of Thought analysis procedures to discovering 'irregular', non-linear and complex patterns in data without the aid of a pre-defined query, as a complement to more traditional methods of analysis.

Collaborative research relationships have been established with overseas institutions, including:

  • Princeton University, the Union of International Associations
  • London School of Economics Complexity Research Programme
  • Fraunhofer Institute
  • Santa Fe Institute
  • University College London

and, in Australia, with CSIRO, University of NSW, University of Sydney, Macquarie University and the University of Queensland.

Dr Galloway is a sought-after public speaker. He is also widely respected for his contributions to Australia's business and scientific communities, as evidenced by references to him in the press by epithets such as 'a national treasure', 'a legend', 'a train spotter's train spotter' and 'mastermind' and 'guru'.

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Deputy Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Business, staff, distinguished guests, graduates, family and friends. I also wish to acknowledge the Eora traditional owners of the land upon which the University is located.

Finally here, it's like climbing a mountain! Well done, and what a great day for us all to help you graduates celebrate most deservedly.

I have been told every good speech should have a surprise. I am going to borrow a surprise from either Churchill or it may have been Menzies. A heckler called out from the back of the room: If you were my husband I would poison your tea. The reply cam quickly: if you were my wife I would drink it.

I have always been fascinated by the process of communication and the networks of contact that people make and that is what I want to discuss today. My PhD was in the study of communication and complex systems, and my career has been devoted to developing software that visualizes large networks, not only between people but between items of data, such as the names of people or companies and connections to phone numbers, addresses and so on. This is in order to make sense of the data and discover non-obvious patterns that would otherwise remain buried. We do this for national security reasons, for fraud discovery and for marketing opportunities.

We are all embedded in networks. If you don't actively grow your connections, then there is a grave danger of not growing yourself, of becoming becalmed in a sea of lost opportunity.

Beware. Networks are a resource, a means to an end. As with other resources it means using them, but using them wisely. People respect honesty and genuineness in relationships. If you don't observe these qualities others will pick up on it and be less willing to establish the relationships and do business with you. The point remains however, networks are a resource that you can influence and I would urge you to, especially with today's increasing opportunities.

You were born into a social network. However, via the internet new technologies are now making it possible for you to connect in ways unimaginable only a short while ago. The world is your oyster as you step forward to the next rung of life's ladder. In the world of connections, it is a small world, and shrinking, and you can take advantage of this.

Social media, meaning online, participatory and interactive media, particularly the new forms of social networking, are transforming the ways in which you can be informed. These media are 'bottom up', meaning the users generate the content and participate in it, rather than the more 'top down' traditional delivery models that comprise television, newspapers, books and radio.

A recent issue of BRW (Business Review Weekly, 13 September) cites an incident: 'On a Singapore subway station, a lovers' quarrel turns nasty. In a fit of rage, the boy pushes the girl onto the tracks. A train appears. The girl scrambles to the far side of the tracks and presses herself into an alcove in the tunnel wall. After the carriages whiz past within inches of her face, someone captures the girl's moments of terror on their mobile-phone camera. Within minutes, the photos are published on a website so the rest of the world can vicariously share in those fearful moments.'

The footprint of the online auction site, eBay, is enormous. I am told that it is the equivalent of the fourth largest nation in the world in terms of numbers of users, a proportion of whom live for many hours weekly in that virtual nation.

The online website MySpace has 200 million users. The top ten sites according to Wikipedia, itself an online interactive site, each have in excess of 25 million users. Facebook grew by 117% of unique visitors in the last twelve months (according to Nielsen's online ratings for August), LinkedIn by 163%, YouTube by 66%, and others such as Buzznet, a social network site centered on music, by 405%. One source last week (comScore, PC-Pro 20Sep), says that more than one billion people are now subscribed to social networking sites worldwide, contributing to more than a quarter of all internet traffic. Keep in mind however, a cross-over of people, i.e. many subscribers to MySpace may also be subscribers to Facebook, etc. Even so, the trend is clear.

What does this mean? A huge question, and who knows. My thoughts are that societal notions of dominant totalitarianism, as per Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World are still correct to a degree. This perspective going forward however will be counter-balanced by 'bottom up' participatory moves toward a more 'open society' (along the lines of Karl Popper). The opportunities for your participation in this groundswell via the new media will be important. Don't ignore such opportunities.

Although networking is receiving a technology make-over of grand proportions, the underlying principles remain.

Each of us is only three phone calls away from the Pope, the President of the United States or an actor whom no one had ever heard of originally named Kevin Bacon. This remains true whether your communication channel is YouTube (as some politicians prefer) or the office corridor.

You have a choice of two types of network:

  • the one that is easy and where your views are not likely to be challenged, or
  • where you need to work at learning and extending yourself through and with others

This is first type:

  • Close-knit
  • Your contacts mainly link to each other and not outside
  • Prevailing attitudes are reinforced
  • Supportive and comfortable but can be stifling
  • Nonetheless important when things are down

Alternatively your network could be like this:

  • Open and expansive
  • Your contacts are in turn connected to others in your network but also to others outside
  • Affords you a diversity of views and opportunities not otherwise available to you

Both types of networks serve their purpose:

One for comfort and support and identity; the other for growing yourself and, continuing the traditions of this university, of learning and discovering.

Your should continually take stock of your networks. Recognize if you are tending to be too comfortable, or still have and develop expansive opportunities and grow through and with others.

No person is an island — what counts is who you know. That does not mean that what you know does not count. Emphatically it does. As graduates you now have a 'badge' to prove in the most public sense that what you know does count.

Obtaining this recognition has not happened independently of others. And quite a few of them are here today and, correctly, proud as punch. Through thick and thin -parents, other family, friends and faculty members who have gone the extra mile to assist you along the way.

Self-confidence, thinking positively, setting goals, the ability to listen and other attitudinal and individualistic attributes need to be developed for you to be successful. These are basic and important. However, the self is simply not big enough to achieve success independently. The better you understand that we are social beings and take advantage of this (on YouTube or otherwise) the more successful you are likely to be.

I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to deliver this address. The world is shrinking in network terms but the opportunities for you are growing.

You have graduated from a very fine University and a top-notch Business Faculty. I wish you well and again say a very warm and sincere congratulations to you.

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