Monday, November 24, 2008

Clay Shirky

This chapter is about social networking and grouping. There are large social groups and small social groups. Large social groups are formed and function much differently than small social groups. There are different ways in which people are connected in networks. There are people who are very well connected and people who are more reclusive.

Networks vary by the way people are connected. There are small densely connected networks, in which everyone knows each other and messages relay much faster. In contrast there are large sparsely connected networks, where people begin to be connected by friends of friends and so on. The dense network’s connectivity is undisrupted if one of the people drop out, where as in the larger network this would cause some problems. The perfect network would be a combination of the model dense network and model sparse network. In this network there would be several groups of densely connected people, which will then be connected to each other through members in each group that are connectable. According to Clay Shirky, this is called a “small world network.” This network is held together by the highly connected individuals. There are two main tools of connecting people; bonding capital and bridging capital. Bonding capital increases the depth of connections and unity of a group. Bridging capital is used to connect the groups to each other, expanding the network. For the purposes of sharing information and having good ideas, it is better to be part of a broader network. When in a broader network you hear different information, while in a very densely connected network you will hear a lot of the same things. The “small world” network is a good compromise between reclusive and over connected, and being an unusable network and an unbuildable one.

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