Weak Ties

Clive Thompson in Smarter Than You Think: How technology is changing our minds for the better in the chapter on "Ambient Awareness" rehearses the sociological literature on the strength of week ties; he does so along with compelling anecdotes from social networking. Let him explain:

Granovetter pointed out, your friends have an informational deficit. They're too similar. This is the principle of homophilly: Socially, we tend to be close friends with people who mirror us demographically, culturally, intellectually, politically, and professionally. This makes it easy to bond, but it also means that we drink from the same informational pool. [...] Weak ties are different. These people are, as Granovetter pointed out, further afield, so they're soaking in information we don't have and moving among people we don't know at all. [...] The ties are weak, but they are rich conduits for information.
I wonder how might this apply to the intellectual ecology of discussion lists where time and again one experiences the synapse effect — a subscriber asks someone off-list about a particular question which answer then gets reported back to the list. The human interaction "jumps" the medium. The social in social media is not in the network or platform per se but in the discussion triggered by the traces. Cloud Chambers.

And so for day 1208