Association Mapping: Social Network Analysis with Humans and Non-Humans

Open Access
Lalone, Nicolas James
Graduate Program:
Information Sciences and Technology
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
July 08, 2018
Committee Members:
  • Andrea Tapia, Dissertation Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Andrea Tapia, Committee Chair/Co-Chair
  • John Carroll, Committee Member
  • Fred Fonseca, Committee Member
  • Marcela Borge, Outside Member
  • Social Network Analysis
  • Actor-Network Theory
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Interdiscipline
  • Game Studies
It is now more difficult to escape the computer than it is to find one. Through nearly endless numbers of devices, users are now performing tasks within an eco-system of applications. No single company, single developer, or single user can comprehend the entirety of that eco-system outside of their respective boundaries. Software design as well as the manner through which user-testing is performed needs new approaches that allow these disparate devices, applications, users, and tasks to be considered in concurrence. In doing so, hybrid actors consisting of human and non-human objects and their multi-faceted contexts will allow designers and researchers to construct a wider, more society-facing picture of use. I present Association Mapping (AM), a novel adaptation of Social Network Analysis that intends to map out each moment of association between people and objects. By including non-human actors in the analysis of software use, all of the disparate applications, devices, tasks, and contexts can be made explicit, numerically represented, and tested against or with similar networks. I demonstrate AM by creating Association Maps for 6 games of the board game Catan (1995) – a dice-based game of resource distribution and management. Catan (1995) was chosen for this pilot study due to its popularity, affordances, and expected behaviors. The maps are separated in 2 ways: 1). modalities: on the tabletop and mediated by an iPad application and 2). By group. AM is useful to designers by providing measurements of three distinct spaces: Outer Space or the general shape the objects create while associating, Inner space or the power of each object individually, and Inter-space or groups of objects working in tandem. Through design fiction, literature criticism, metaphor, and play, AM is contextualized and described both through this study and in general.