When we began making network maps, the tools available didn't
give us what we needed to do what we had in mind. Kumu was a big step
forward, but it left a gap in the data-gathering, data-structuring
category. The problems were:
- Existing social media tools all had shortcomings:
can't limit your Facebook connections to be just those relevant to your
network (well, not without a lot of code). And who says FaceBook is
even where you connect with your change network?
- Same for LinkedIn, even more so.
- Neither LinkedIn nor Facebook enabled you to distinguish the degree of
connectedness (when we DID use LinkedIn, before building sumApp, and got
a lot of complaints about how irrelevant many LinkedIn connections are.
LinkedIn was simply misleading for a whole lot of reasons.
of communities we work with never touch LinkedIn - so whole communities
would look non-existant on a map sourced by LinkedIn data (not good! We
didn't even get complaints about that, just lots of disgusted looks)
2 years into our practice, LinkedIn closed down their API, so we could
no longer pull their data anyway - they recognized the dollar value and
sold data access to the highest bidders
- Existing SNA tools were expensive & you couldn't even trial them without contacting the owners.
SNA tools also didn't have the most user-friendly interfaces - you
could only use them effectively with what we considered small-ish
populations (no more than a couple hundred). (we had a client that
wanted to map 1,200 - so that was our target when designing an
- Normal survey tools output the data in a format
that is nearly impossible to wrangle into the right shape to be read by
Kumu or any other SNA tool.
We needed a tool that
solved all those problems, and there just wasn't anything available that
came even close. So at the persistent nudging of our dear friend,
Michael Bischoff, who had initiated the Social Innovation Lab in
Minnesota, we decided to build what we needed ourselves.
We're still working on it.
And we invite you to be share your ideas about it.
What is Greater than the Sum?
Greater than the Sum
was birthed by the marriage of Christine Capra and Tim Hanson. We
combined Christine's interests in self-organizing in human systems and
data visualization, added Tim's interest in data-wrangling and
lightweight coding (with the purpose of keeping Christine happy), and
began a practice aimed at the spot where visualizing data provides
feedback for system change.
We started out
doing a range of evaluation - survey - data viz kinds of projects but
soon gravitated toward network mapping.
Greater than the Sum is a company started by Christine Capra &
Tim Hanson. We developed and continue to improve the sumApp
network-data-gathering tool and we create custom Social System Maps for
clients using sumApp, Kumu, and other, externally-soured data-sets. We
generally serve clients in partnership with network and systems-change
consultants and evaluators.
Tim tends to
stick to wearing the Technician Hat. He is a master at Kumu, can create
needed - automatically. He's the guy to go to when something breaks.
client work, Christine mostly wears the Technician Hat as well. But as a
leading visionary in an emerging field, she focuses on helping to
catalyze the tools and practices of those wearing the Visionary Hat and
the SenseMaking Hats. Christine also convenes a community of practice
around the emerging field of Social System Mapping.
We both help to support a network around Social System Mapping for system-change agents, evaluators, and movements.
know how much greater we are together than the sum of what we are
separately, and our vision is that the 'greater than' dynamic is
repeated, scale-wise, outward, through everything we do, creating a new
field of practice that enables all of us together to accomplish much
more than we would as separate parts.
we're all about data - we see our work as contributing to the emergence
of a new visual language. One that we hope will one day be as commonly
understood and used as geographical maps. A language that will enhance
our understanding of human systems and enable us to adapt and transform
faster and less traumatically than we are currently able.