Archive for the ‘Networks in the News’ Category

How to judge a book by its network


Taking advantage of the ‘customers who bought this item also bought’ feature of online commerce, this study constructed a co-purchase network of political books and science books. Researches found a clear division, which they label “partisan differences in the consumption of science”. Both groups bought science books — more than 400,000 between them. But it was relatively unusual to find books that appealed to both liberals and conservatives. Members of each group — and their good friends — had different ideas about what made a good book. Buyers of “blue books” (the liberals) tended to pick from basic science topics, including physics, astronomy and zoology. “Red” customers preferred books that discussed applied and commercial science, such as medicine, criminology and geophysics. And whereas liberal choices tended to reflect mainstream thinking, “red books” tended to be co-purchased with a narrower subset of science books on the fringes of each subject. Read the full article here.

Bad bots do good: Random artificial intelligence helps people coordinate


“To figure out whether random AI can help people coordinate, Hirokazu Shirado, a sociologist and systems engineer, and Nicholas Christakis, a sociologist and physician, both at Yale University, asked volunteers to play a simple online game. Each person controlled one node among 20 in a network. The nodes were colored green, orange, or purple, and people could change their node color at any time. The goal was for no two adjacent nodes to share the same color, but players could see only their color and the colors of the nodes to which they were connected, so sometimes settling conflicts with neighbors raised unseen conflicts between those neighbors and their neighbors. If the network achieved the goal before the 5-minute time limit was up, all players in the network received extra payment. The researchers recruited 4000 players and placed them in 230 randomly generated networks. Some of the networks had 20 people controlling the nodes, but others had three of the most central or well-connected nodes already colored in such a way that they fit one of the solutions. (Each network had multiple solutions.) And some of the networks had 17 people and three bots, or simple AI programs, in charge of the nodes. In some networks, ...

Brain connectivity dynamics during social interaction reflect social network structure


Ralf Schmälzlea,b, Matthew Brook O’Donnellb , Javier O. Garciac , Christopher N. Casciob , Joseph Bayerd , Danielle S. Bassette,f, Jean M. Vettelc,e,g, and Emily B. Falkb,1 a Department of Communication, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824; b Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104; c Human Research and Engineering Directorate, US Army Research Laboratory, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 21005; d School of Communication, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210; e Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104; f Department of Electrical & Systems Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104; and g Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106 Social ties are crucial for humans. Disruption of ties through social exclusion has a marked effect on our thoughts and feelings; however, such effects can be tempered by broader social network resources. Here, we use fMRI data acquired from 80 male adolescents to investigate how social exclusion modulates functional connectivity within and across brain networks involved in social pain and understanding the mental states of others (i.e., mentalizing). Furthermore, using objectively logged friendship network data, we examine how individual variability in brain reactivity to social exclusion relates to ...

Global patterns of synchronization in human communications


by Alfredo J. Morales, Vaibhav Vavilala, Rosa M. Benito, Yaneer Bar-Yam Social media are transforming global communication and coordination and provide unprecedented opportunities for studying socio-technical domains. Here we study global dynamical patterns of communication on Twitter across many scales. Underlying the observed patterns is both the diurnal rotation of the Earth, day and night, and the synchrony required for contingency of actions between individuals. We find that urban areas show a cyclic contraction and expansion that resembles heartbeats linked to social rather than natural cycles. Different urban areas have characteristic signatures of daily collective activities. We show that the differences detected are consistent with a new emergent global synchrony that couples behaviour in distant regions across the world. Although local synchrony is the major force that shapes the collective behaviour in cities, a larger-scale synchronization is beginning to occur. Read the full article here.

Snap: Rewriting ‘Art of War’ for social networking — by not documenting anything


Social networks may be the most valuable and durable types of businesses powered by “network effects,” the phenomenon of products or services becoming more powerful the more people use them. The social-networking companies in our recently launched Network Effect Index — a group of current and formerly public consumer-Web companies valued at $1 billion or more — outperformed the S&P by over 170 percent in the last five years, the most of any business category in the index. This is one reason the imminent IPO of social/mobile app Snap, which thrives on network effects, is being so closely watched. Another is that Snap — the parent of the ragingly popular Snapchat service, and a company expected to be valued at roughly $20 billion at its offering — represents the first credible threat to the Facebook social-networking colossus. Interestingly, Snap has grown by following a path very different than Facebook’s — so much so that we believe Snap ultimately could be valued less like a traditional social network and more like a hardware-software company, like Apple, or a media business, like Comcast. Read the full article here.

Mathematical Model Reveals the Patterns of How Innovations Arise


The work could lead to a new approach to the study of what is possible, and how it follows from what already exists. Innovation is one of the driving forces in our world. The constant creation of new ideas and their transformation into technologies and products forms a powerful cornerstone for 21st century society. Indeed, many universities and institutes, along with regions such as Silicon Valley, cultivate this process. And yet the process of innovation is something of a mystery. A wide range of researchers have studied it, ranging from economists and anthropologists to evolutionary biologists and engineers. Their goal is to understand how innovation happens and the factors that drive it so that they can optimize conditions for future innovation. This approach has had limited success, however. The rate at which innovations appear and disappear has been carefully measured. It follows a set of well-characterized patterns that scientists observe in many different circumstances. And yet, nobody has been able to explain how this pattern arises or why it governs innovation. Read the complete article here. You can see the published paper here.

Research networks ‘more important’ for female scientists


Study finds a stronger correlation for women between success and being central to a network Being well connected is more important for women who want to get ahead in science than men, a study suggests. By analyzing how patterns of research collaboration relate to scientific outcomes, US statisticians found that highly cited female scientists at top US universities tended to be very prominent within their research networks. However, the same was not true for highly cited male scientists, who are generally less central to the larger academic networks they participated in, according to the paper by Charisse Madlock-Brown, from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and David Eichmann, from the University of Iowa. The article, “The Scientometrics of Successful Women in Science”, was published recently online by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Read the full article here.

An Ivy League professor says there are only three types of friendships we make


Friendship isn’t always as serendipitous as it might feel. Are you a “tight-knitter”, a “compartmentalizer,” or a “sampler”? According to Dartmouth sociology professor Janice McCabe, whose study of the effects of social connections on academic performance was published this month in the journal Contexts, when forming new friendships, people tend to follow one of these three patterns. McCabe used mathematical models to examine the friendship structures of 67 students on a Midwestern college campus, aiming to figure out how those structures influenced success in the classroom. Read the full article here.

How Facebook Saw Trump Coming When No One Else Did


As the electoral map turned crimson this evening, everyone exclaimed that the data and polls had not seen this coming. They were only partly right. At least one overlooked data source had made a very strong suggestion that Donald Trump enjoyed an unquantified current of popular support. Read the full article here  

Twitter bots “Trumping” during this election


How the Bot-y Politic Influenced This Election: Nearly 20 percent of all election-related tweets come from an army of influential robots. Read the full article here.   Trump’s Twitter Bots Turned Out on Election Day: Throughout the campaign, automated propaganda accounts on Twitter leaned Republican, but that disparity increased in the race’s final days. Read the full article here.