Proceedings of IEEE, “The Impact of Changing Technology on Social Networks”, Dec 2014

This special issue of the Proceedings of the IEEE focuses on how digital technology is changing the structure and dynamics of social networks and the tools we have for studying and designing them. Three main take-home messages:

• Social media, search, and data extraction technologies are not only changing the structure and dynamics of social networks, but are also changing how controllable these systems are.

• Precision, quantitatively justified interventions into behavioral dynamics are increasingly feasible within the digital domain, permitting large-scale experiments on human behavior and social systems. This is useful and presents challenges.

• We understand the relationship between energy and information – how bits get converted to watts – for electrical circuits, but not for social networks. In biology, computational social science, and the science of social engineering, the development of a functional theory of information is a central theoretical challenge that needs to be addressed if these disciplines are to have strong foundations.

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