What’s Your Net Work?

Timberlake at a concert in St.
Image via Wikipedia

There is a similarity between all networks in that they are not random and critical hubs form naturally within networks. As a network grows links are added to preferred nodes forming hubs with higher numbers of connections.  As networks form hubs it becomes easier to break the networks by breaking the hubs.  As links are added to networks there is a preference to connect to hubs or nodes with higher numbers of connections.

Clay Shirky explains that “power law distributions tend to arise in social systems where many people express their preferences among many options”. This is the opposite of what we might expect. When a network grows the gap between the node with the most connections increases from the median number of links. The rich get richer. Duncan Watts points out, “ If one object happens to be even slightly more popular than another at just the right point, it will tend to become more popular still”.

We are all social beings. As choice increase the chance of finding what we want decreases.  Since we may not really be sure what we want anyway we may want to just experience the same as others are experiencing to benefit from sharing that experience.

Does the attractiveness of using a technology or method for learning increase with the number of people using it?

Pete Cashmore of Mashable sums it up nicely “In other words, things rise to the top not because they are better quality than the alternatives, but because people copy what their friends do: a tiny rise in popularity an early stage can mean massive popularity further down the line.”

Is Justin Timberlake a Product of Cumulative Advantage?

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