HOW THE BRITISH COULD HAVE FOUND OUT PAUL REVERE. The use by the National Security Agency of “social network analysis” is receiving a lot of attention in the media. Kieran Healy prepared this mock analysis in Slate of how the British could have used the tools used by the National Security Agency to identify Paul Revere as an important dissident. The analysis purports to be written by a British spy in 1772. It uses what it calls “social networke analysis” to determine “which organizations are linked through the people that belong to them both”. The writer of the analysis notes that he knows “nothing of Mr Revere, or his conversations, or his habits or beliefs, his writings (if he has any), or his personal life”, but using information about his membership in various organizations, Revere stands out as a person of interest. The example illustrates how the analysis can be used for a comparatively small number of people and organizations, (a matrix with 254 rows and 254 columns is used), and that out of 254 people, Paul Revere’s name emerges along with three other names. Healy sketches out the math that could be used to analyze enormous numbers of people and organizations.

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