Blog 11: Scale free networks

When reading Shirky’s article, Power Laws, weblogs, & inequality, it definitely felt a lot like watching Shirky’s Ted talk on how social media can make history. While the article and ted talk did have similarities, they did also have some differences between them. In power laws, weblogs & inequality, Shirky talks about how not everyone is going to be heard, even when someone creates a blog, it is not going to be guaranteed that everyone in the world will see their individual blog. It all depends on whether people share the blog, recommend the blog, and what one person reads may be completely different than what someone else is going to read, we are all different and have different interests. This also brings me to the next point about how not everyone will participate in every conversation. Those who have strong social ties to one group is going to have more communication with each other than a group of acquaintances or even friends of friends. When referring to the scale free network, “networks grow through the addition of new nodes linking to nodes already present in the system.”(europeanmedical) This could refer to the public sphere or the use of social media, because different people “nodes” are able to talk to each other in a community.


This image shows the nodes and their links in different social media platforms.


The Ted Talk was interesting because he talked about how much our communication methods have changed over the years, we went from having a printing press to having the internet and cell phones to communicate with each other. It was interesting when he says that if a person is good at creating groups then they won’t be good at communication, or when someone is good at communication, they won’t be good at groups. The internet does allow groups and communication at the same time because we are able to reach a large group of people at the same time, an example of this would include Facebook. When it comes to democracy, Shirky talked about how the Obama campaign allowed people to express their feelings and let their voices be heard without shutting them down. This does not happen everywhere, because in China, they have what is called the “great firewall of China.” They filter what comes into the country. This does not happen in the United States because there is more of a freedom of speech, where people are able to openly share their thoughts and ideas. This corresponds to the public sphere, where is where people are able to openly talk to others. In a democracy, they are able to talk about who they support, who they don’t support, why they support one person opposed to another. It is important that we have this ability in the country because we need to be able to have a society where we can openly talk to each other.

Social media has come a long way over the years. Even if I think about when I was younger, social media has changed in such a large way. There used to be Myspace, now there is Facebook. Cell phones used to be much different, a lot of cell phones didn’t have the capability to allow us go on the internet. Now, smart phones allow us to go on the internet straight from our phones. We are able to reach a wide range of people by using Facebook on our phones. This has been said to be a bad thing because our personal connections with people have decreased, since more interactions with others are online. Others would say that this is a positive thing because we are still connecting with others. I would say that it is a positive thing, any connection we can form with someone else is still a relationship. Social media will continue to change over the years because we are living in a technologically advanced world now.

This image shows a scale free network, which shows how different nodes have links attached to them from other nodes in the network.

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