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The Momentum of Social Networks (Part 2)

Written by: Bill Sherman on Wednesday, 13 August 2008, 6:16 AM

Yesterday, I raised questions about momentum within social networks. Today, let’s explore some models.

Basic Connections

Let’s say that you and I are connected within a social network. Together, we share a bond:

  • Strong tie (we’ve been close friends for years)
  • Weak tie (we are passing acquaintances only).

In this example, I’m using a solid line to represent a strong tie, and a dashed line to represent a weak tie.

Overall, this static representation provides only limited information, because I don’t know anything about the momentum of the connection.

Converging Connections

Almost every connection you develop as an adult starts with a weak tie.

You meet someone new (either on your own or through an introduction. During these initial moments, you both assess “should I spend more time with this person?” If so, you start developing a connection. If not, the two of you have the briefest of encounters.

Diverging Connections

However, not all connections will converge. Many of them diverge. Casual acquaintances can lose touch with each other, and long-time friends can drift apart.

I’d argue that for a pair of weak connections, the momentum will tend towards divergence. Unless we reach out and maintain the bond, a weak connection will weaken further over time.

The Foundation of Momentum

These two options provide the foundation for momentum within social networks. Yet, we can easily add one layer of complexity to these models. Sometimes people initially move closer to us (to assist on a project or common cause) and then they drift away.

Tomorrow, we’ll add the element of radial vectors into the Momentum of Social Networks.

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