The Hidden Influence of Social Networks [TED Talk]

There seems to be word about a hidden influence of social networks which many of us are unaware of. Personally, I haven’t figured it out yet, however, Nicholas Christakis did! Christakis is an American physician and sociologist, known for his work on social networks and other factors that affect health, health care, and longevity.

I was always interested in knowing if anyone has looked into what effect virtual networking has on people’s lives. This is how I stumbled upon some studies by Christakis in the first place. In those studies, he talked the effect social networking has on actual reality and it was equally intriguing and important.

Here are some of his observation and findings:

What is Twitter: News Media or Social Network?

Twitter seems to have grown from a simple platform for exchanging 140-character messages, into a subject matter for case studies seeking to uncover human behavior!

A recent study called: “What is Twitter, a Social Network or a News Media?” by Haewoon Kwak, Changhyun Lee, Hosung Park, and Sue Moon – Department of Computer Science, Korea – tackles this matter in efforts to better understand the popularity of Twitter and the transformation of Twitter since its development up until the present day.

In other words, the main goal of the study is analyzing the topological characteristics of Twitter and its power as a new medium of information sharing.

In order to deduce accurate results, the researchers heading this study crawled 41.7 million user profiles, 1.47 billion social relations, 4,262 trending topicsĀ and 106 million tweets.

We begin with the network analysis and study the distributions of followers and followings, the relation between followers and tweets, reciprocity, degrees of separation, and homophily. Next we rank users by the number of followers, PageRank, and the number of retweets and present quantitative comparison among them“.

Conclusions… In Geeky English!

1. Among reciprocated users some level of homophily was observed. In order to identify influentials on Twitter, users were ranked by the number of followers and by PageRank. They found the two rankings to be similar.

From the study: Topics ranked by RT proportion (# of users > 50,000)

From the study: Topics ranked by RT proportion (# of users > 50,000)

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