Homophily run rampant.

Tuesday, March 16th, 2004

I’m surprised Bush hasn’t directed the Supreme Court to outlaw this practice yet:

homophily:individuals with like interests associate with one another.

I found this tidbit in a PDF Sammy sent me (she’s doing research for her writing, of course)–this very academic paper called Information Flow in Social Groups (PDF download), which, as she says, looks at social connections–that Kevin Bacon six-degrees thing–using the emailing of attachments and links as a test medium.

This paper does some interesting things with how people share information in this email-connected age. I know that I can count on my sister for a certain number and certain style of links, often related to politics and the general idiocy of Folks Out There. There are other dear friends who send me (and the 80 other people in their address book) pictures they’re excited about–only to discover later that they’re hoaxes. This study concludes, among many other things, “most URLs and attachments are not passed on more than once or twice. The ones that do reach a significant fraction of recipients are passed on involuntarily by the sender (advertisements embedded in email messages sent from free email accounts) [or] passed top-down through the organizational hierarchy (an effective way to disseminate information that we do not account for here).” Ah, science explaining social patterns. In the future, our evolution will be algorithm-ized. (Why does this remind me of the Asimov social scientists in The Foundation Trilogy?)

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This started out to be one of those rainy day entries, but the sun come out and brother James and I went out for a nice stroll today, where he got to talk out his frustrations with making our sister’s site look nice on evil Microsoft Windows browsers…among other things…and I got to talk about my attempts to understand the powers and mysteries of Cocoa. Mmmm…Cocoa goodness everywhere.