Posts Tagged Social

The Network that (likes to think it) runs the World

Scientists at the ETH Zurich analysed the international ownership network of multi-national companies. If you had a look at the intrinsic properties of real-world and biological networks, the 80-20 rule comes as no surprise: in biological networks, usually over 80% of the edges are covered by less than 20% of the nodes. A related phenomenon is called the Pareto Principle in economics. The core of this network contained 1318 companies, which

… represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world’s large blue chip and manufacturing firms – the “real” economy – representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues …

“Reality is so complex, we must move away from dogma, whether it’s conspiracy theories or free-market,” says James Glattfelder.

It took me some time to find the original paper on PLoS, which isn’t linked from this article on the NewScientist – probably because it wasn’t out yet at the time:

Reference: The Network of Global Corporate Control by Stefania Vitali, James B. Glattfelder, Stefano Battiston (2011) PLoS ONE 6(10): e25995. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025995

How these findings relate to the error and attack tolerance of scale-free networks in the context of the current economic situation is further food for thought. But I urge caution to naïvely transfer insights from one domain to another, there are no simple (mono-causal) answers to complex problems. Especially when dealing with the emergent properties of networks, there is only one constant: they tend to work out quite differently from what we initially thought.

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Visualizing your Social Network

LinkedIn offers a visualisation of your network connections. While browsing and looking at the persons represented by the nodes and their proximity, directly hypothesis form in the head as to the common context (when and where one met). To me the accuracy of the layout and coloring is amazing! That the different clusters actually delineate different institutes and departments I had the pleasure to work with/at is a nice “proof-of-concept”, albeit a bit terrifying as to how much the network knows about us … if you already are at LinkedIn give it a spin to see “the community” emerging around yourself. Makes you also wonder what the guys running the social networks actually can do with the entirety of network data we dump on them. Anyway, have fun exploring your local network!

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A bitter taste of things to come?

On January 18, 2012, sites all over the internet will be blacking out to protest and try to mobilize more people to speak out against this bill coming up in the Senate next week — S. 968: the Protect IP Act (PIPA) — in an attempt to let U.S. lawmakers know how much opposition there is. [ News]

Unfortunately, this is really no hype – just recently I heard highly-paid, no-nonsense corporate lawyers on the topic saying they’d recommend their clients to basically shut down most of their internet-presence immediately in case this bill passes, just to be sure not to be sued to the bones. Ruling by fear, that is….

A video on the topic is on

Please see this post from last year on how the story developed.

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The Joy of Stats

Visualisation is right at the heart of my own work, too […]
and I know, having the data is not enough.
I have to show it in ways people both enjoy and understand.

Hans Rosling’s TED talks have been a shining and influential example to many (including myself, I hope) – here is him condensing the development of the last 200 years around the globe into an engaging presentation in just under 4 minutes.

Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes – The Joy of Stats – BBC Four – shared by Hyun P. via the group Wolfson College, Cambridge on LinkedIn.

More links and the full (1h) documentary on BBC Four are available here and on the Open University website. Also, there is an interview and a best-of video on

“I kid you not, statistics is now the sexiest subject on the planet” says Hans Rosling – I guess the title is a (not so subtle) reference to the 1972 book from Dr. Alex Comfort.

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Visualizing Social Network Dynamics

Honestly, I am still coming to grips with some features of google+, but it’s gaining on me. Thanks to suggestions there, I came across this visualisation :

This video visualizes 5 hours of posts, comments, and likes on Google Plus condensed in to 4 minutes.

I think the way dynamical aspects of the network are highlighted is quite impressive and could be useful in the context of biomolecular networks as well:

More details explaining what’s going on are available on the youtube-page (click the youtube-logo in the lower right of the video). There you can switch from 360p to HD (up to 1080p) and watch it in full screen mode, which allows to clearly read the text and labels that pop up. A nice description is in “Take That, Google: Interactive Google+ Stream Visualizer Launching as Chrome Extension” – it is also mentioned among “The 65 Stories TechCrunch Didn’t Cover in November (But LAUNCH Did)” on (surprise!) LAUNCH.

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The Free Network Project

Share files, chat on forums, browse and publish, anonymously and without fear of blocking or censorship! Then connect to your friends for even better security!
Learn more!

The internet as it was meant to be? Maybe. Definitely worth checking out – for example the overview on What is Freenet? and the philosophy behind it.

In the face of ill-motivated attempts to curb free speech and information exchange around the globe (not only pursued by standard totalitarian regimes that spring to mind) such efforts make increasingly sense – for example see

PROTECT IP Act Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

see also STOP SOPA, SAVE THE INTERNET on boingboing.

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Breaking Through the Walls

Top scientists present (in 15 minutes each)

ideas that could dramatically transform life worldwide” (Scientific American)

Falling Walls in 100 secs from Falling Walls on Vimeo.

The “Falling Walls” conference took place on 9th of November this year – after attending the (truely amazing) first installment 2 years ago, I can only highly recommend to check out the livestream recording – and there is a liveblog available, too.

Among the many innovative ideas is the “subtle” way of getting the speakers of the stage at the end of their alloted time – Enjoy!

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