On reading the first few chapters of the Social Networking text my colleague Judith commented that some of the social networking concepts were reminiscent of going back to high school. What a fun anology! But yes, basic network concepts recognize within many of our life networks some members are clearly more powerful, “popular” or better connected than others. This chapter had me reflecting on the multitude of networks that I have based on the different roles or hats that I wear in my life; mother, instructor, colleague, friend, master’s student, triathlete etc… It was interesting to consider the overlaps within my networks, in terms of considering the concept of “multiplexity” and “homophily” – how birds of a feather really do flock together. I was also reminded of the “six degrees of separation” concept. A fun way to approach this concept is through http://oracleofbacon.org/help.php
This game is based on the “Small World” concept and the idea that actors within the Hollywood movie industry can be linked to actor Kevin Bacon within six steps (well this varies actually). The connection between Bacon and another actor is expressed as the “Bacon Number”. This is a silly but fun way to demonstrate how the two factors of homophily and weak ties (friends of friends) work together to shorten the connections among a large group of nodes in a network. The most connected actor is apparently Sean Connery with a bacon number of 2.8 and the average is 2.9. So in this case, he is the fairest of them all! This site is based on the Erdos number concept as applied to the movie industry.