did the tipping point get it wrong? a new look at social networking.

New Scientist explores the impact of your friend’s friend’s on your mood and attitudes, and shares some new findings.

People you havent met have a strong influence on you.

People you haven't met have a strong influence on you.

Sociologists and others are using mathematical models to test these dynamics to try to understand better what triggers the spread of behaviours. Duncan Watts at Columbia University has shown that seeding localised social groups with certain ideas or behaviours can lead to the ideas cascading across entire global networks. This contradicts the notion – promoted by the author Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point and others – that social epidemics depend on a few key influential individuals from whom everyone else takes their cue. It doesn’t ring true, argues Watts, because such “influentials” typically interact with only a few people. The key for the spread of anything, he says, from happiness to the preference for a particular song, is a critical mass of interconnected individuals who influence one another.

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~ by jamie andrei on January 4, 2009.

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