I am reading Linked, The New Science of Networks, by Albert-László Barabási. I'm about halfway through and finding it more readable than The Six Degrees of Separation, that covered essentially the same material.
In the late sixties, Mark Granovetter, a grad student at Harvard, explored social networking by asking residents of Newton, Massachusetts, how they found their jobs. He was surprised to find that close friends played a much less important role than people who were only weakly connected socially. In fact, close friends were no help at all.
Think about it. You have a handful of really close friends, and you travel in the same circles and know most of the same information. Not much chance of finding something new in this small, tightly-knit crowd.
However, each of your friends has friends in other groups. These acquaintances are bathed in different streams of information.
And since each contact opens up bonds to another group of friends, the number of friends of friends and so forth grows extremely rapidly:
Granovetter's paper describing weak ties was rejected by American Sociological Review and languished for several years before being recognized as one of the most influential papers in modern sociology. It's the weak ties transmit new ideas from the outside world.
The weak ties hypothesis helped researchers see through the oversimplifications that had hamstrung their study of networks.
Another grad student, Ginestra Bianconi, discovered that the web behaves according to some of the laws of quantum mechanics. Researchers had looked at network phenomena as a math problem or geometry exercise. No, it's more like a complex system. This means that sometimes it's winner take all (think of Microsoft in the software ecosystem). I don't think it's mere coincidence that grad students are making these discoveries rather than faculty members who've spent decades in the math department.
Robustness is a measure of stability and survival under extreme conditions and Murphy's Law. A tightly interwoven system exhibits this fault-tolerance. You could wipe out 80% of the nodes on the Internet and it would continue to function.
Network thinking is poised to invade all domains of human activity and most fields of human inquiry. It is mroe than another helpful perspective or tool. Networks are by their very nature the fabric of most complex systems, and nodes and links deeply infuse all strategies aimed at approaching our interlocked universe.
The author ends with an analogy to Christo's wrapped Reichstag. Networking has been under a shroud too long. It's time to unwrap it.
Yuck. I was looking for more. This reminds me of my undergraduate major, Sociology. I chose this social science because I thought I'd learn something scientific. To my disappointment, the field turned out to be primarily social. In fairness, I think the difficulty is that we simply don't know much abuot network behavior yet. The upside is that I feel that I have a shot at expanding our understanding of it.
30 Poppy Lane
Berkeley, California 94708
1.510.528.3105 (office & cell)
Subscribe to this Blog
Our Infrequent Newsletter
Entries by category...
Recycled from Blogger
Internet Time Group
© 2004 Internet Time Group
Blogger Experience, Housekeeping, Something New
Demographics is destiny
Are you setting the bar high enough?
Work as Video Game
Oracle and Macromedia, Sitting in a Tree
ASTD Silicon Valley
Kingsbridge Conference Center
First Post by Email
RSS Feed for New Site
Testing ... testing ... 1...2..3
IT Doesn't Matter - Learning Does.
All blogging is political
Damn, damn, double damn
The New Religion
Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! Wolf!
Business Process Management (2)
Business Process Management Conference
Don't Lose a Common Sense: LISTEN
It's only natural
Go with the flow
Time Out for the Fair
Informal get-together in SF this Wednesday
Repetition, reverb, and echoes
Push vs pull
The Big Picture on ROI
New Community of Practice Forming
Training Directors Forum 2004
A Rare One-Liner
PlaNetwork LIVE 2
ASTD 2004 Leftovers
Worker Effectiveness Improvement, not KM
Jay's Talk at ASTD
Mintzberg & Cooperider
Lest ye forget
ASTD International Conference & Exposition 2004
What is Workflow Learning?
ASTD msg 1 of n
Look out, it's Outlook
Collaboration at ASTD Next Week
Tell me a story
The shortest presentation on metrics you will ever hear
Back to Blogger
The Alchemy of Growth
Very loosely coupled
E-Learning from Practice to Profit
Robin Good kicks off Competitive Edge
Emergent Learning Forum: Simulations
The Best Things in Life Are Free
Metrics and Web Services
OpEd: ROI vs. Metrics