Archive for the ‘homophily’ Category

Should we hang out with people we don’t like

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Homophily-based algorithms may not be good for us (previous post). Few points from the Guardian Week:

  • The faintly depressing human tendency to seek out and spend time with those most similar to us is known in social science as “homophily”, and it shapes our views, and our lives, in ways we’re barely aware of.
  • Technology, Zuckerman argues, risks making things worse: on the internet, most obviously, it’s possible to exist almost entirely within a feedback loop shaped by your own preferences
  • We long to have our opinions confirmed, not challenged, and thus, as the Harvard media researcher Ethan Zuckerman puts it, “Homophily causes ignorance.” (It also makes us more extreme, studies show: a group of conservatives, given the chance to discuss politics among themselves, will grow more conservative.)
  • The unspoken assumption here is that you know what you like – that satisfying your existing preferences, and maybe expanding them a little around the edges, is the path to fulfilment. But if happiness research has taught us anything, it’s that we’re terrible at predicting what will bring us pleasure. Might we end up happier by exposing ourselves more often to serendipity, or even, specifically, to the people and things we don’t think we’d like?

Someone is already at work: Ethan Zuckerman’s work toward a Serendipity Engine

Homophily in MySpace

Friday, February 6th, 2009

(doc) by Mike Thelwall: “The results showed no evidence of gender homophily but significant evidence of homophily for ethnicity, religion, age, country, marital status, attitude towards children, sexual orientation, and reason for joining MySpace. There were also some imbalances, with women and the young being disproportionately commenters and commenters tending to have more Friends than commentees.”

On homophily

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

From “Birds of a Feather: Homophily in Social Networks” (pdf). “Similarity breeds connection. This principle—the homophily principle—structures network ties of every type, including marriage, friendship, work, advice, support, information transfer, exchange, comembership, and other types of relationship.”

Evaluating Mobile Solutions – WWW’08 to the rescue

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

To evaluate new mobile content discovery approaches, one needs to understand:

1) What mobile users query for:

2) How interests distribute across mobile users (who befriend each other):

Homophily of social ties

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

“I always learn something when I teach my networks class. One of the early exercises that I have students do is a personal network self evaluation (adapted from Baker’s book on social capital). The students’ networks tend to be highly educated, very international, ages 25-30. Essentially, the networks of students tend to look a lot like themselves. What is notable (I base this on the last 3 years of doing this exercise) is where the networks look most different from the students, which is, more often than not, in ties to family members. Family ties are somewhat less likely to be highly educated, and when they are, it is often in a different domain than that of the other people in the students’ network, and, unsurprisingly, they are often (literally) of a different generation.” More.