My name has the perfect number of characters.
In empirical studies of friendship networks participants are typically asked, in interviews or questionnaires, to identify some or all of their close friends, resulting in a directed network in which friendships can, and often do, run in only one direction between a pair of individuals. Here we analyze a large collection of such networks representing friendships among students at US high and junior-high schools and show that the pattern of unreciprocated friendships is far from random. In every network, without exception, we find that there exists a ranking of participants, from low to high, such that almost all unreciprocated friendships consist of a lower-ranked individual claiming friendship with a higher-ranked one. We present a maximum-likelihood method for deducing such rankings from observed network data and conjecture that the rankings produced reflect a measure of social status. We note in particular that reciprocated and unreciprocated friendships obey different statistics, suggesting different formation processes, and that rankings are correlated with other characteristics of the participants that are traditionally associated with status, such as age and overall popularity as measured by total number of friends.
“Facebook recultures and educates its users via its very own forms of “symbolic violence”, to use Bourdieu’s terminology. Thus, in the long run, despite any user’s most resourceful exertions, the social network machine itself soon begins to “tell all.” The Facebook panopticon is such, with its ceaseless feeds, updates, tags, pokes, gifts, city locators, and quiz results, that the flux and hydra-headed polyphony of the self leaches onto the screen with a speed and nimbleness that overwhelms any possible human counter-stratagems.”
“Initially, Facebook was just a place to post photographs and see which of your high-school classmates had gone to pot. Then it became a place for organizing political protests, and wasting time playing games. It’s grown and grown in all these ways. It gets credit from many for helping facilitate the Arab Spring, and it now hosts four per cent of all the photographs ever taken. Now, if Facebook gets its way, it’ll be where you read your news, find new songs, and watch video. It will have eaten a big chunk of the rest of the Internet.”
This is all obvious. Facebook wants to do to the internet what shopping malls did to Main Street. But have you been to an indoor shopping mall lately?
I think there’s a cycle at work: canalization and diversification follow one another. Customers are confused by novelty, so someone builds a containing structure with legible, predictable taxonomies. Then, as the more diverse system outside those channels evolves new, shiny attractions, even the novelty-averse customers start to leave the familiar for the wilds, and their presence accelerates innovation. Whether the organizing agent can keep packaging novelty as familiarity determines whether it can survive.
AOL thought it was such an organizing force, but it was really an ISP.