The Physics arXiv Blog for MIT Technology Review
In 1967, the American social psychologist Stanley Milgram sent out 160 packages to randomly chosen individuals in the U.S., asking them to forward them to a single individual living in Boston. The task included a simple rule: The recipients could only send each parcel on to somebody they knew on a first-name basis.
To his surprise, Milgram found that the first package arrived at its destination via only two people. On average, he found that the parcels reached their destination via five pairs of hands, which amounts to 6 degrees of separation.
Milgram’s work has since been repeated on various social networks. For example, Microsoft says people on its Messenger network are separated by 6.6 degrees of freedom and Facebook claims its members are separated by only 4 degrees of separation.
But there is another element to this work that has been less closely studied, which is the time it takes to travel across a network. In Milgram’s experiment, the first package arrived in just four days. But the others took significantly longer.
So an interesting question is how quickly is it possible to traverse a social network — to track down a random individual across the network.
Today, we have an answer thanks to the work of Alex Rutherford at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi and a few pals who have measured how quickly it is possible to track down random individuals around the world using social networks.
They concluded that, on average, any individual is just 12 hours of separation from another.
Their data comes from a competition called the Tag Challenge, in which the goal was to find five individuals in five different cities in North America and Europe. The only clue was a mugshot of the individual, the name of the city he or she was in and the fact that they would be wearing a T-shirt with the logo of the event.
Rutherford and his team won the competition by identifying three of the five individuals in just 12 hours.
They say a key factor to achieving this feat was the ability of participants to target other individuals who may be to help. That’s in contrast to another strategy which is blindly gathering as many different people to help as possible.
source: MashableRead more
MELBOURNE: Your popularity on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn may help you bag a job as companies are increasingly looking for well-connected and influential people, experts say.
Digital experts say social media and recruitment now largely go hand in hand.
While at the most basic level, companies check up on prospective employees to see if they make unsavoury postings online, they are also using LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to find new employees – both by listing opportunities and by increasing the chatter between recruiters and the people looking for jobs, website stuff.co.nz reported.
“Social media has become an essential part of any organisation’s recruitment strategy. It is easier to generate talent through social media. A lot easier than it was four or five years ago,” said Hays RecruitmentNew Zealand managing director Jason Walker.
Walker said in a recent survey of 270 employers across New Zealand the company found that 64 per cent of employers used LinkedIn to find new employees, 50 per cent used Facebook and 10 per cent used Twitter.
Of those looking for jobs 74 per cent use LinkedIn, 24 per cent used Facebook, and 7 per cent used Twitter, Fairfax NZ news reported.
Tom Bates, the social influence director for digital strategists Contagion, said employers would look at a prospective employee’s social media presence to validate what the candidate was saying about their online profile.
“If someone says that they are influential and they are not even on Twitter, or don’t use social media well, then they are not being authentic or honest,” Bates said.
“When I am recruiting I look first and foremost on LinkedIn. I look at the experience people have, their connections, because it gives a really open, transparent, easy way to source relevant people,” Bates added.
“I also look at all their other social media identities to get more of a sense of who they are, outside of the one-hour interview I may have with them. I look at their Facebook and Twitter and potentially Instagram and beyond to make sure there is a good cultural fit,” Bates said.
source: The Economic TimesRead more
By now, we’ve all heard about Facebook’s Graph Search announcement. Does this mean I’ll finally be living in a utopian society where social media will guide my searches based on what my Facebook friends think about products? Will I finally be living a life of bliss when my online connections serve as my life compass?
If my sarcasm is any indication of my personal view, my answer is no. Should I feel bad that I don’t care what 90 percent of Facebook friends think about stuff?
The thought of online not being a true driver of recommendations isn’t just my wacky idea. According to Ed Keller, co-author of The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace, 90 percent of real-world conversations about brands, products and services happen offline. This statistic indicates that true product recommendations require a dialogue and the ability to ask qualifying questions, such as “Why did you like that?” — not just a one-way endorsement of “Hey, I had a really good experience with this widget and you will too, because we’re Facebook friends!”
Before you start thinking I don’t care about the rich data social media offers, I do. I do so much that I run a social media advertising agency called Rocket XL. At the risk of alienating clients like Unilever and PepsiCo, here’s a telling example of why companies should not rely on quantiative social data without the qualitative insight.
Say I’m planning to download a movie from Vudu. My Facebook feed might tell me that “Chasing Mavericks” is the most popular new release among my friends. This must be something I have to see immediately, right? But if I were to speak to these friends face-to-face and ask them why they liked the movie, perhaps they’d reveal: “The hot blonde surfer chicks” or “Gerard Butler…hot.”
In other words, they’d be happy to watch the movie on mute just for the eye candy, not because the movie is any good.
Before I get accused of living offline in the last century, the area I think social product opinions can work very well is in the difficult art of selecting a gift for a friend, family member or colleague. If Facebook, or some other future algorithm, can tell me what’s popular with a friend and accurately suggest gift ideas, that’s brilliant because I’m clueless when it comes to giving gifts and I’ve yet to see a service truly succeed with social gifting recommendations. I can’t wait to see who cracks it first.
Until then, I publicly apologize to all my online connections. Just because we’re Facebook friends doesn’t mean that I care about your social media likes. It’s not you, it’s me.
source: ForbesRead more
It was a gloomy Saturday morning as I entered the Dentist’s clinic and headed to the waiting room to wait for my turn to go through torturous pain (read: root canal). As I settled into the stainless steel chair, I looked around to check my fellow victims, a twenty-something female sat with her head bowed down, phone in hand.
On her right was a middle-aged man, again looking down with phone in hand. Surveying the rest of the room, I noticed all present were busy with their phones, which wasn’t an uncommon sight, but it got me thinking of how our lives are being affected by these devices and the social media we are almost compelled to be on all the time.
Social media can most easily be defined as a network of various websites where people meet, share and interact.
I remember Orkut, MySpace and Hi5 – what fun we thought they were, the perfect way to spend the ‘extra’ time we had.
Then there are Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Facebook, totally addictive examples of social media, where users just ‘have’ to check for updates every other minute! From uploading photographs of every (and any) event happening in our lives, to sharing ‘memes’, to stalking relatives and friends, to adding/following anyone we’ve ever said hi to, to bringing revolutions and creating hate groups, to marketing for business ventures, for home entrepreneurs – social media has it all.
There is a difference of opinion on the advantages/disadvantages of social media.
The main argument of those against it is that one is glued to a screen all the time, causing physical repercussions; and due to the fact that all interactions on it are virtual, this reduces a person’s social skills. Obsessive use of such media may lead to detrimental physical and mental effects.
On the other hand, the benefits of social media are many, from marketing your brand, to establishing a business from home, to increasing your customer base, to shortening distances worldwide; social media has for sure brought about a change globally. Anything can be made popular using social media.
For the love of food
Lately, things related to food are very popular all over the social media, and food promotions on this platform are rampant.
You see almost every other person tweeting or Instagramming the meal they just had (that includes me too). Somehow the trend for sharing the food we just had or are making on social networking websites has become very common now.
People all over Instagram, Twitter, Facebook etcetera, are posting pictures almost every other hour. There are various groups on Facebook which are dedicated to food, where people share the reviews of their favourite eateries specifically highlighting what they liked or disliked.
source: Spider Magazine / Tehniat AftabRead more
When the line at Starbucks is long, when class gets dull, when conversations get personal, when loneliness strikes, we grab the phone like an Old West quick draw. Though our generation is marked by social media, experts are anxious of its effects on relationships, specifically our capacity for communication.
“We’re setting ourselves up for trouble,” said Sherry Turkle, psychologist and cultural analyst, at a recent TED talk. “Trouble certainly in how we relate to each other, but also in how we relate to ourselves and our capacity for self-reflection. We’re getting used to a new way of being alone together.”
“From social networks to sociable robots, we’re designing technologies that will give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship,” Turkle said. “We turn to technology to help us feel connected in ways we can comfortably control.”
Students’ thoughts on conversational texting and social media’s effects on relationships teeter between convenience of control and the desire for true communication.
“I think it’s made it easier to hang out with people and make plans and talk to people throughout the day, though you may not be able to hang out with them,” said Haley Brisben, sophomore. “You can talk to whoever you want, whenever you want. It’s just easier to communicate.”
Senior Macy Brisben agreed.
“Some people are always on their phones, and it makes it hard to even talk to them in person,” Macy Brisben said. “Otherwise, you can just use it to hang out more and see each other more.”
Young people ages 18 to 24 are racking up the most time on the Internet. In the past year, consumers increased their social app time by 76 percent, and overall time spent on social media sites increased 24 percent, according to an annual social media report by the Nielsen Company. But the Internet’s most valued customers are becoming more aware of the dangers of overexposure to social media, hoping to improve their conversation skills.
“I think it (texting) makes it harder for us to talk to people face to face,” said Avery Zorn, sophomore. “We are a lot more comfortable in confrontation and talking about bigger issues through texting than when we have to talk to the person. You can just text them and not have to look them in the eye.”
Zorn and her friends gave up from social media for February.
“It really has affected us,” Zorn said. “We went on a road trip and none of us had social media. We had three hours of talking to each other, and it was really good. We were forced to sit and have conversation with one another.”
source: The Arkansas Traveler / Madelynne JonesRead more
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Recent surveys estimate Facebook is now playing a role in at least a fifth of U.S divorces and may be a factor in up to a third of divorces . With that in mind, and in the hopes that their story will serve as a lesson for others, one couple in northeast Indiana decided to share how social media contributed to the shattering of their marriage.
Jeff and Denise, who asked not to have their faces shown or last names revealed in our TV interview, got married 12 and a half years ago. The early years, they say, were happy. But in 2009, Jeff -consumed with starting a small business- was working long hours, and problems began to emerge.
“For me, it was the intimacy and the relationship in the bedroom,” said Jeff. “It just wasn’t there at all. Once a month, if lucky.”
Denise added, “There was lack of communication there, too. In a sense, we both went our separate ways. He worked a lot and I was working also and taking care of the kids and taking care of the house, so time together was not there.”
About this time, Jeff was reconnecting on Facebook with a woman he’d known in high school.
“You felt like you could tell this woman things you couldn’t tell your wife?” NewsChannel 15 asked. “Absolutely,” Jeff responded.
“Because that part of your life at this point was shut down?”
“Yeah. I think it’s human nature to look back and say ‘What if ?’,” Jeff continued. “And that’s how it progressed. And it just clicked and started going in a direction that it never should have gone.”
Two to three months after the chatting started, it had turned into an emotional affair. Though the adultery had not yet turned physical, Jeff and the other woman did start meeting in person, and the attraction only grew stronger. Within weeks, Jeff decided to divorce Denise.
Jeff remembered breaking the news to his wife. “We just sat in here and I told her I was done. I [could not] continue on this way. I had fallen in love with somebody else, and I was leaving.”
Denise’s response? “I was totally devastated because I hadn’t even seen any warning signs, if I want to say that. It was just like a bombshell had been dropped.”
Jeff walked out on his wife and three kids, an especially crushing blow to their oldest daughter, who was eight years old at the time.
“I still remember the look on her face and the tears rolling, you know, from the devastation,” said Denise. “Because I think in a kid’s eyes, the person that Dad should like or love is Mom, not anybody else.”
source: wane.comRead more
Have you ever found yourself asking, “Where did the last hour go?” when connecting with friends or colleagues in social networks? Social media is like a drug; just a little taste and we can’t help but want more. Social networks are the drug dealers; they facilitate our addiction to this gateway drug with one-click access to our social graph and a multitude of other sites and apps. They’ve gamified the experience to appeal to our human needs so well that Maslow himself would weep with pride. With each click, we enter a maze of endless possibilities, often ending up in networks or conversations that have nothing to do with our initial reasons for logging in.
These networks, as well as the ecosystem of data centers and software developers that been erected around them, do not provide this access out of the goodness of their hearts. It’s a business, and as with all businesses, there’s a cost required to purchase their products and services. Yet, most social networks and associated apps don’t charge any money for their services. So what price do we pay?
I’ll answer that with the old adage: “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.” And that’s the real cost of social media access: becoming a product. Advertising and sponsorships keep the lights on in your favorite social networks and what they pay for is access to you. The more we engage, the more the networks track and analyze. The more they track and analyze, the more they can charge advertisers. What does “becoming a product” really mean? What are the tangible costs we pay?
We’ve eagerly plugged our lives into the social net and have willingly accepted the costs. Yet, it seems that we’ve really not understood what those costs are. One can argue that we acknowledge the costs when we check the “accept terms and conditions” box upon registering in another social network, but in reality, we’re ignorantly signing over a blank check. People are beginning to realize these costs — in many cases, only when it’s too late:
The question of whether social media is a productive or distracting force in our lives is fodder for another article. The fact remains that we’ve all agreed to invest our time in this activity. According to Nielsen and NM Incite’s The Social Media Report 2012, consumers continue to spend more time on social networks than on any other type of Internet site. Twenty percent of the total time we spend online is on personal computers and 30 percent via mobile devices. And it’s increasing. As of July 2012, the total time spent accessing and engaging in social media sites has increased 37 percent in the U.S., representing 121 billion minutes (up from 88 billion minutes the year before).
source: HUFFPOST TECH / Sam FiorellaRead more