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.

Blog 7: Habermas and Castells

The Public Sphere is declining, “If we are to believe what sociologists are telling us, the public sphere is in a near terminal state.” (Johnson, 2006) Habermas defined the Public Sphere as both the public and the state working together and communicating with each other. A democratic society is a good example of a public sphere because the public are able to have a say in what they what. People with similar and different ideas are able to come together and talk about what they want. The Public Sphere is “a willingness to engage with the particular issues thrown up by contemporary politics is, for Habermas, a central responsibility of the critical theorist.” (Johnson, 2006) Meaning it is good to engage with each other about different issues.

“An” Understanding of Habermas and the Public Sphere

Castells defined a network society a little differently, he defines it as more of an online way of communicating instead of in person. “Castells defines ‘network’ explicitly as a set of interconnected nodes of which he mentions such examples as stock exchange markets and their ancillary centers of advanced financial services in the network of global financial flows.” (Anttiroiko, 2015) Nodes are important and are connected to each other in different ways.



This is a good image that shows how public opinion can be influenced by media.

Having a network society can be both a good thing and a bad thing. While online communication can be good, it also takes away from in person relationships. It is also a problem when some people may not have internet, so it hasn’t really improved their lives any. When it comes to education, we have seen over the years that learning has focused more on technology. Today, kids take laptops with them to class to take notes on, whereas before that wasn’t an option. Also, in health care, a patient’s health file used to be stored with lots of other files, but we are seeing more and more that even with health care, those files are now online. Technology is always changing and everywhere we look, there are always new advances when it comes to technology.

Anttiroiko, A. (2015, July 15). Networks in Manuel Castells’ theory of the network society. Retrieved from

Johnson, P. (2006). Habermas: Rescuing the Public Sphere. London: Routledge. Retrieved from,url,cookie,uid&db=nlebk&AN=157805&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Blog 6: Research plan

When doing my research, I am trying to look at a person’s social ties on Facebook. I will be doing more of an observation data collection as I am looking at a Facebook post that has already been made, and the responses that person got on it. I am going to look at one friend I have on Facebook who made a post about being 1,000 days sober. On that one post, he has 174 likes and 56 comments.

I would like to look at whether those responses are positive, neutral, or negative. I would not expect negative reactions, but that is how I will measure the data I collect. A positive response would be a message of encouragement, a neutral response would be more of just an emoji and not saying anything, and a negative response would be a negative comment. Making sure that I keep their names confidential, I will assign each of the edges an ID number, instead of using their name.

When collecting the data, I will go through each individual comment and see what the response was. If someone commented more than once, I will include that. I will also look to see if the original node (my friend) commented back to any people who responded to him. This would determine if they are undirected, or directed. If he responded back, then it would be undirected because the ordering wouldn’t matter. If it was directed, then the order is more important because just because someone responded, doesn’t mean they got a response back. The degree of  the original node would be how many people commented to him. The in degree is how many people responded to the original post, and the out degree is if he commented back.

This is more of an ego network. An “ego has a tie to every alter, but not all alters need to be tied directly to each other.”(Robins, 2015) Just because he knows the edges, doesn’t mean they will necessarily all know each other. I will look at this also. I will look at who commented and see if they have any interaction with the other edges. This would determine if they are friends of friends or if they just know the original node.

With regards to Facebook, this is how our relationships to others usually works. We have many friends on our friend list, but only some are real friends where we have interactions with regularly.






Smith, M. (2009, March 30). Social Networks in the News at NYT › Social Media Research Foundation. Retrieved from

I am trying to look at:

Did any other edges respond to each other?

Did females or males respond more or was it the same?

Do people always respond in positive ways?

Do any edges have the same friends?

Did the original node comment or like the response comment?

Did anyone respond more than once?

In the article that I found, they were also looking at an ego network. They were looking at a social media network of Nonprofit sports organizations, they were looking at relationships between different users. This way they could look at centralized actors and see if they needed to change any of their social media strategies. “An ego network consists of a focal actor or ego and immediate contacts or alters and all ties between the ego and its alters, as well as between alters.”(Naraine & Parent, 2016) This is exactly what I am looking at with my research. I have one focal actor and I will look at the ties between the focal actor and the alters. While my research will be similar to what they did in their experiment, to build on this for my research, I am using one individual and looking at the edges that connect to them. I am not focusing on organizations, but individual people.

Naraine, M. L., & Parent, M. M. (2016). Illuminating Centralized Users in the Social Media Ego Network of Two National Sport Organizations. Journal of Sport Management, 30(6), 689-701. doi:10.1123/jsm.2016-0067

Robins, G. (2015). Doing social network research: Network-based research design for social scientists. Los Angeles: Sage Publications

Blog 5 node centrality

When it comes to social networks, there are four main node centrality measures that describe networks. Node centrality measures are important in social network analysis, but also in other fields when doing research. Degrees look at how many links a node has to other nodes in a network. Betweenness centrality looks at the shortest path between nodes. Closeness centrality refers to how close a node is to other nodes in a network, and eigenvector centrality looks at how important a node is, it looks at how many other links to other nodes in a network there are. If a node has a high eigenvector centrality, it is well connected to other nodes, it is important.


This is a good example of how people are the nodes, it shows the links between all of the nodes in this particular network. Some are closer together than others.

Node centrality measures are not only used when looking at social networks, they can be used in the health field also when looking at infectious diseases and how they spread. “In epidemiology, some possibly infective contacts between individuals are long term (friends, family) but many are fleeting (people in the street or the market place).”(Hyoungshick & Anderson, 2012) When it comes to infectious diseases, it is important to find the node that had the most contact with others, they may be long term and people they have been in close contact with over a period of time, or they may be short term, If someone is sick on an airplane, and they touch their tray, then it doesn’t get cleaned completely, the next person who sits there could get sick. They didn’t have a long-term connection to each other, in fact, they didn’t really have a connection at all, apart from the airplane tray. In the article by (Hyoungshick & Anderson, 2012), they looked at merchants and villages and the closeness and betweenness values between them to look at how diseases spread.

This picture shows an initially infected adult and the different links it has to other nodes(people). It is a good way to show how diseases can spread.

In cases of Ebola or STD’S it is important that they find who came into contact with the person who is sick. The same goes for vaccinations and how they protect against disease. “If a node has twice the neighbors of another, it has twice as many nodes to which to spread an infection.” (Holme, 2017) Meaning they not only have twice the way to spread an infection, but also get an infection. If someone has a close degree centrality and they are sick, it means that they are looking at all of the links one person has to another (who they have come in contact with) When looking at closeness centrality, this looks at how close a person is to other people. Betweenness centrality would look at the shortest path between two people, and eigenvector centrality looks at how important one person is in the network and whether they had come into contact with a lot of people. If they had, this means they are a significant person, they might be a carrier of the disease. This shows that node centrality is important, not just with social networks, but even when health professionals are looking at the spread of disease.

Holme, P. (2017). Three faces of node importance in network epidemiology: Exact results for small graphs. Physical Review E, 96(6). doi:10.1103/physreve.96.062305

Hyoungshick, K., & Anderson, R. (2012). Temporal node centrality in complex networks. Physical Review E,85(2). doi:10.1103/physreve.85.026107

Bowling alone and Social Capital: Blog 4

Growing technology advances have increased over the years, which led to the idea from Robert Putnam that we are all bowling alone. Bowling alone refers to the idea that communal participation in the U.S. has been declining and people do not bowl in teams anymore, they bowl alone. (Kadushin, 2012) While there may be a decline in face to face interactions, the use of technology still provides us the ability to have strong ties and relationships with others. While bowling in groups may have decreased over the years, bowling alone has increased. That isn’t to say that we are all isolated, but with social media and cell phones, there became less of a need to go out and talk face to face. Even though in person interactions decreased, technology still has the ability to bring people closer together.

This picture shows just how many Facebook users there are. This was from January 2018, so I am sure the number has only increased since then. It just shows how social media is a big part of our lives now.

Now, people are able to stream movies and shows on Netflix or Hulu, even cable has changed over the years. Social media went from Myspace to Facebook, even my Grandma has a Facebook now. Even if I am less socially engaged in person, I am more connected through technology. I was born in Scotland and moved here when I was younger, so I still have a lot of family there. Social networking has given me the ability to talk to my family in Scotland who I wouldn’t be able to talk to regularly otherwise. I am also able to see them on Skype, and even though we aren’t directly in front of each other, I am still thankful for the technology that allows me to see them on a computer. Even since I was young, there have been many changes in terms of computers, internet, and cell phones. It makes me wonder what other advances are still to come.

Social capital Is “everything psychological and social about a person”. (Kadushin, 2012) Our social capital refers to our connections in our social networks, whether they are strong or weak ties. Our social capital is important because it gives us the ability to connect and form relationships, it brings people together. Trust between people is important when it comes to social capital, if we have something personal going on, we usually reach out and talk to someone from our strong ties, whether that be a family member, a close friend, or someone we are in a relationship with. We can trust them.

Reciprocity is part of a social capital, but I think this is an example of how social capital may not always be positive and how people could use social capital to their advantage, but not necessarily in a good way. If I volunteer for something, help a friend, or do something for someone else, I don’t do it because I expect something in return, which is what reciprocity is. It is the understanding that if someone does something for me, I’ll do something for them in return. I don’t think that is how relationships and connections between people should work. I would like to think that most people don’t think this way, and that they do things for others just because it is the right thing to do and not because they will use that for something for themselves in the future.

This picture shows what goes into social capital. The networks in social capital consist of brides and bonds.

Social capital can definitely be useful when it comes to research because we can reach out to our strong ties to conduct our research. We could also reach out to our weak ties if we needed more participants and more data. When collecting data for my own research, I can reach out to strong ties first because they are the people I am closest to, then I can start expanding the people I reach out to, I would start asking weak ties (acquaintances) that I don’t talk to regularly but I may be friends with on Facebook. Social capital helps in our daily lives because it gives us the ability to form relationships and connections, no matter how big or small with other people.

Kadushin, C. (2012). Understanding social networks: theories concepts and findings. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Small world

The small world theory suggests that we all have connections to other people, and while two people may not know each other, they might have a friend in common, so they have some kind of link between them. For example, if we have three people, Nicole, Dave, and Jessica and Nicole and Dave know each other, and Nicole and Jessica know each other, but Dave and Jessica don’t, they still have a connection because they share an acquaintance. If they were both at a party I wasn’t at and they started talking, chances are it might come up I was each of their friends. That is why we often hear people saying it is a small world when referring to someone they both know. It is pretty amazing to meet someone and realize you have a mutual acquaintance out of all the people in the world.

This picture shows how strong and weak ties are both helpful. It says Mary wants to buy a new car, but the strong ties she has as friends may not necessarily be experts when it comes to new cars, so the strong ties are able to give her the names to people they know, who are the weak ties.

Strong ties and weak ties are both important because everyone has both. A strong tie would be family, best friends, or people we are in relationships with. A weak tie is more like someone we don’t talk to often, so a friend of a friend. If I take 50 of my Facebook friends and ask them to name 5 of their best friends, chances are that out of the 5 friends they name, I would know at least some of them. We tend to have friendships with people we are similar to, so chances are that depending on if I have a strong tie or a weak tie to one of the original 50 people I ask, that we will have some similar friends. Both strong and weak ties are important because both give us connections to other people. While strong ties are usually who we have the strongest relationships with, weak ties are also important because they allow us to meet new people.

“Researchers have found evidence that all individuals on this planet can reach another through on average only five intermediaries.”(Yang, Keller & Zheng, 2017) Kevin Bacon has to do with six degrees of separation because of a college game that was created. The idea was to see how many people have a tie to Kevin Bacon. There is a website where you can enter another famous person’s name, and that number is how many links until they get to Kevin Bacon, by similar actors or movies. One of my favorite shows right now is Outlander, so the name I put in was Caitriona Balfe. Caitriona Balfe has a Bacon number of 2. I included a picture of how, along with the website.

This shows the Bacon number that Caitriona Balfe has to Kevin Bacon.




Yang, S., Zhang, L., & Keller, F. B. (2017). Social network analysis: Methods and examples. Los Angeles: Sage.

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