Notes on stuff

Tagged Posts: Networks

Links for 2015-04-01

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Leaving Ecademy

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Ton sums it up well. As soon as I get got a response from Ecademy support telling me how to remove my profile it will be was gone.

The Social Origin Of Good Ideas (again)

Although I first skimmed this paper back in May I’ve finally got around to reading it properly and writing some summary notes.

At an emotional level I feel pleased that a behaviour that I find natural (i.e. to dip into different work groups or areas of study and share ideas between them) and feel to be one of the more useful of my talents is shown to have measurable benefits. If anything it prompts the networker’s perennial question – “which groups haven’t I tapped into yet?”

In a similar vein, serendipitously this comes into view: Caves, Clusters, and Weak Ties: The Six Degrees World of Inventors on the way that researchers can bring in new ideas to a company through their weak ties with other technologists.

Reed’s law in several places

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It is the nature of mind to filter experience through the most recent or most strongly held concepts.

No wonder then that after (finally) coming across “Reed’s Law”: thanks to “this”: thought-provoking article by “Robert Paterson”: I shortly noticed these two:

* Adina Levin in “describing”: the recent “experiments”: to test Wikipedia’s resilience spots that the real power of Wikipedia’s “defensive techniques”: lies in the effect they have of turning the site into a warren of virtual neighborhoods
* In [bliki]Building Public Value[/bliki] the “BBC”: is seeking to link its strategy with the greater public good in support of the argument for Charter Renewal. A lot of the BBC document talks about the power of that unique organisation to build a sense of community amongst various parts of the British population (an example of an activity that specifically stimulates group-forming would be “iCan”: Could this strategic direction be the best example yet of a broadcast-based organisation learning to tap the power of “Reed’s Law”: ??

Testing Meme Propagation In Blogspace: Add Your Blog!

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This posting is a community experiment that tests how a meme, represented by this blog posting, spreads across blogspace, physical space and time. It will help to show how ideas travel across blogs in space and time and how blogs are connected. It may also help to show which blogs are most influential in the propagation of memes. The dataset from this experiment will be public, and can be located via Google (or Technorati) by doing a search for the GUID for this meme (below).

The original posting for this experiment is located at: Minding the Planet (Permalink: — results and commentary will appear there in the future.

Please join the test by adding your blog (see instructions, below) and inviting your friends to participate — the more the better. The data from this test will be public and open; others may use it to visualize and study the connectedness of blogspace and the propagation of memes across blogs.

The GUID for this experiment is: as098398298250swg9e98929872525389t9987898tq98wteqtgaq62010920352598gawst (this GUID enables anyone to easily search Google (or Technorati) for all blogs that participate in this experiment). Anyone is free to analyze the data of this experiment. Please publicize your analysis of the data, and/or any comments by adding comments onto the original post (see URL above). (Note: it would be interesting to see a geographic map or a temporal animation, as well as a social network map of the propagation of this meme.)


To add your blog to this experiment, copy this entire posting to your blog, and then answer the questions below, substituting your own information, below, where appropriate. Other than answering the questions below, please do not alter the information, layout or format of this post in order to preserve the integrity of the data in this experiment (this will make it easier for searchers and automated bots to find and analyze the results later).

REQUIRED FIELDS (Note: Replace the answers below with your own answers)

(1) I found this experiment at URL:

(2) I found it via “Newsreader Software” or “Browsing the Web” or “Searching the Web” or “An E-Mail Message”: Newsreader Software

(3) I posted this experiment at URL:

(4) I posted this on date (day, month, year): 03/08/04

(5) I posted this at time (24 hour time): 11:19:00

(6) My posting location is (city, state, country): London, London, UK

OPTIONAL SURVEY FIELDS (Replace the answers below with your own answers):

(7) My blog is hosted by: WordPress

(8) My age is: 43

(9) My gender is: Male

(10) My occupation is: CIO

(11) I use the following RSS/Atom reader software: Bloglines

(12) I use the following software to post to my blog:

(13) I have been blogging since (day, month, year): 22/09/01

(14) My web browser is: Mozilla

(15) My operating system is: Windows 98 / XP

Photoblogroll and FOAF?

Ton has added photos to his blogroll. I wondered if he was doing it by searching people’s FOAF files but apparently not (it was pure coincidence that he added my photo about a day after I linked it from my FOAF file)

More about online influence, meta-frames and context

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Steve at OnePotMeal is untangling the strands of online influence.

He starts by agreeing with AKMA that, regardless of the sometimes high noise-signal ratio on the web:

we can devise and sustain persistent salutary connections online in new ways that would have been significantly less workable and durable under the limitations of physical interaction

and adds a nuance from Anne Galloway:

it has become (somewhat painfully) obvious that the same inequalities that we struggle with in the everyday are equally present in cyberspace – they just take on context-specific qualities

and poses this question:

How do we begin to tease out these context specific modes of influence without trapping ourselves in the assumption that we’re working in entirely familiar territory, while at the same time recognizing that we have inevitably carried over much of our offline behavior into the linked realm? [...] The way to understand context specific influence is to explore its specific context. Simple, no? One means of doing this is to track an individual meme, an individual link, in other words, as it moves and meanders across the web. Not to count the number of times it’s linked, but rather to understand the ways in which it is linked, because I think real influence, genuine power is tied up in the ability to make meanings and direct the meaning-making of others far more than in raw numbers and visibility [...]

I would put this another way – real influence comes from setting the high-level meta-frames, which in themselves are the context…

Steve goes on:

The web equivalent, at least the way I’m thinking about it here, isn’t who links the most but whose links have the biggest impact. For example, I generally trust AKMA as a thinker and source of information, so I take seriously whatever he links to. When I follow those links, I’m then reading them through the lens of my trust of AKMA, so I’m perhaps more likely to read in a way sympathetic to his reading. Which is not to say I’ll agree with him exactly all the time–far from it–just that the context in which I read a link can be defined by how I get there [...] What am I actually proposing? Something that, by dint of its enormity, may not even be possible, or would at least be complex and difficult. Essentially, hypothetically, to follow every link to a particular meme in order of appearance, map those, map the further links and the ways in which they branch of from each original link, and parse all of the contexts in which those links were made

Setting aside, for the moment, the practical issues associated with this (that Steve acknowledges) I’d like to suggest an addition…

  • If we could identify which memes were “close to each other” (in some unspecified but intuitive way) we could start to identify the frames of reference that are operating. (I am suggesting that by associating links with memes these may be at too small a “chunk size” to identify guiding ideas)
  • By tracking the links in the way Steve suggests we could start to map these frames to levels of abstraction – to see which represent the “higher” levels of context.
  • Taking our thought experiment a step further, if we could then establish some sort of “ownership coefficient” between those frames and the people who are most associated with expressing them we could see who had most influence within a given community of ideas…

I think this needs a

English is a small world

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Azeem points to this article in Nature from last summer that reports work by Adilson Motter and colleagues at Arizona State University.

The researchers traced the links between 30,000 English words in an online thesaurus. For example, the word ‘actor’ can be connected to ‘universe’ through two intermediaries. The thesaurus lists ‘character’ as a synonym for ‘actor’; ‘character’ is also equated with ‘nature’; and ‘nature’ with ‘universe’.
Moving from ‘actor’ to ‘universe’ in the network of words therefore takes three steps. To the surprise of Motter and colleagues, they found that the same was true of just about any randomly chosen pair of words in the thesaurus. The English language, in other words, enjoys just three degrees of separation.
The researchers think that the network structure of a language probably has its origins in the nature of cognition and memory. It is not surprising that language is highly clustered, as we remember things associatively – by grouping similar concepts together.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’m in the middle of reading A Universe of Consciousness by Gerald Edelman and Giulio Tononi. In this they expound their dynamic core hypothesis of consciousness – that consciousness is an emergent property arising from the dynamic, short term (100s of milliseconds) existence of a functionally-interlinked set of neurons.

In applying this theory to specific subjective experiences (so called qualia) they put forward the idea of a multi-dimensional qualia space that maps the states this dynamic core can be in. They further suggest that subjective experiences that “feel close together”, e.g. different colours, represent adjacent states in this dynamic map.

I’m feeling a tantalising link between these two sets of ideas – one that words are closely linked, on the other that different subjective states represent “close” dynamic states of the neurons in the brain…

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