Saturday, April 23, 2011

On networks [Note to self]

Aah, networking the buzz word of the last ten years that just won't die. I hate networking. It is stupid and a very unpleasant process. Talking to people you do not even like just because you want to be part of their network and expect to gain something from this connection. It reduces human contact to just pursuit of personal benefit. That's not cool.

Anyways the concept of networks and how they operate is a very interesting topic. Recently I saw a documentary about the structure of networks and it was pretty damn interesting. Here are some ideas that I picked from it.

The main point of the documentary was that networks seem to have a few universal rules that they follow. It seems that all the participants of a network are really just a few hops away from each other and that the six degrees of separation is not a myth after all. This pattern can be seen in social networks, electrical networks and even in biological organisms.

Why isn't "six degrees of separation" total myth. Well any network follows a pattern where most of the members of the network only have a few connections. Second point is that, for example, in a social network members usually are connected to the same people, think of your circle of friends, you all know each other. But if one point of a network has a connection to a point far away it can connect two clusters and create new connections within the network. Illustration please:

Social network diagram Source: Wikipedia

Usually these points of network that have connections to far away clusters have connections to other clusters as well. They can be described as being kind of a super cells (or nodes, or hubs) they connect the different clusters together. These super cells can be found in road networks, micro chips and human cells. The fact that clusters start to emerge seems to inevitable in a network. In fact all networks can be described with to attributes high connectivity and clusters There lies the strength and weakness of networks. Removing the major hubs (small nodes do not matter that much) will cause the network to collapse. It also means that, for instance, in the case of social media and networking in general, you want to try and become a hub of connections and it would be a mistake to focus on the people you already know. Only by becoming a hub you can ensure that your message spreads the farthest it can spread. (If that is what you want.)

You can find more information on different networks on Wikipedia.

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