Defining the network sentiment is a practice that allows participants to choose different lenses to observe a network and the data produced, and which constraints, shades, angles, aspects to highlight. This helps building more solid and data-driven assumptions.
These data-driven assumptions, far from being "the reality", can be used as a map to navigate the tangled mess of more or less interconnected data that are produced by a network, looking for valuable insights that can empower human discussions and decisions.
The map is not the territory, as Alfred Korzybski warns us...
Taking actions - backed by such data-driven analysis - may have a meaningful impact upon complex networks such as a municipality, where usually is hard to connect and intertwine data together in reliable ways, and where most of the information are gathered mostly through questionnaires or direct involvements/experiences.
How it works
With ZenPub each participant can record different types of economic activities that are performed over time.
One such economic activity could represent the production of a new resource (eg. a cake).
Productions usually are preceded by a series of activities: transformations, transfers, exchanges, some work done, tools used - any step that contributed to produce the resulting good.
In the case of the cake, someone can record the ingredients involved and how they acquired them: harvesting trees (let's say it's an apple pie) or performing an exchange in the local market, which person was involved in the production of the cake and how much time it took, the amount of resources consumed and the ones left.
Having such data available only for one cake is not particularly meaningful, but how would things be different if such data was recorded for example for all the cakes sold in the municipal markets?
The network sentiment analysis could help us find insights about which ingredients are the most used in the niche we're exploring. Where such ingredients were retrieved, if there are particular activities that monopolize the area and what are the logistics involved in all the steps of production.
Such observations, when available openly, can stimulate discussions and actions: participants in that area can find ways to coordinate their activities in order to optimize the logistic, with the end goal of reducing co2 emissions, or trying to grow local producer contribution to the market, among other things.
Network sentiment can act as a sentinel for taking specific actions over a network or as a way to ease the planning of specific activities, having the possibility to check actions against the data produced.