Friday, February 27, 2009

Perspectives on Social Networking

Will Facebook, Twitter and other online social networks will increase the size of human social groups is an obvious hypothesis, given that they reduce a lot of the friction and cost involved in keeping in touch with other people.

Once you join and gather your “friends” online, you can share in their lives as recorded by photographs, “status updates” and other titbits, and, with your permission, they can share in yours. Additional friends are free, so why not say the more the merrier?

But perhaps additional friends are not free. Primatologists call at least some of the things that happen on social networks “grooming”. In the wild, grooming is time-consuming and here computerisation certainly helps. But keeping track of who to groom—and why—demands quite a bit of mental computation. You need to remember who is allied with, hostile to, or lusts after whom, and act accordingly. Several years ago, therefore, Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist who now works at Oxford University, concluded that the cognitive power of the brain limits the size of the social network that an individual of any given species can develop.

Extrapolating from the brain sizes and social networks of apes, Dr Dunbar suggested that the size of the human brain allows stable networks of about 148. Rounded to 150, this has become famous as “the Dunbar number”.

Many institutions, from neolithic villages to the maniples of the Roman army, seem to be organised around the Dunbar number. Because everybody knows everybody else, such groups can run with a minimum of bureaucracy. But that does not prove Dr Dunbar’s hypothesis is correct, and other anthropologists, such as Russell Bernard and Peter Killworth, have come up with estimates of almost double the Dunbar number for the upper limit of human groups. Moreover, sociologists also distinguish between a person’s wider network, as described by the Dunbar number or something similar, and his social “core”.

Peter Marsden, of Harvard University, found that Americans, even if they socialise a lot, tend to have only a handful of individuals with whom they “can discuss important matters”. A subsequent study found, to widespread concern, that this number is on a downward trend.

The rise of online social networks, with their troves of data, might shed some light on these matters. So The Economist asked Cameron Marlow, the “in-house sociologist” at Facebook, to crunch some numbers. Dr Marlow found that the average number of “friends” in a Facebook network is 120, consistent with Dr Dunbar’s hypothesis, and that women tend to have somewhat more than men. But the range is large, and some people have networks numbering more than 500, so the hypothesis cannot yet be regarded as proven.

What also struck Dr Marlow, however, was that the number of people on an individual’s friend list with whom he (or she) frequently interacts is remarkably small and stable. The more “active” or intimate the interaction, the smaller and more stable the group.

Thus an average man—one with 120 friends—generally responds to the postings of only seven of those friends by leaving comments on the posting individual’s photos, status messages or “wall”. An average woman is slightly more sociable, responding to ten. When it comes to two-way communication such as e-mails or chats, the average man interacts with only four people and the average woman with six. Among those Facebook users with 500 friends, these numbers are somewhat higher, but not hugely so. Men leave comments for 17 friends, women for 26. Men communicate with ten, women with 16.

What mainly goes up, therefore, is not the core network but the number of casual contacts that people track more passively. This corroborates Dr Marsden’s ideas about core networks, since even those Facebook users with the most friends communicate only with a relatively small number of them.

Put differently, people who are members of online social networks are not so much “networking” as they are “broadcasting their lives to an outer tier of acquaintances who aren’t necessarily inside the Dunbar circle,” says Lee Rainie, the director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, a polling organisation. Humans may be advertising themselves more efficiently.

But they still have the same small circles of intimacy as ever.


Pew Internet & American Life, Dr. Marsden research, The Economist,

Friday, February 20, 2009

Facebook Evolves Network Connections

Social Networking Sites - Faced with Revenue Generating Challenges

Facebook and Other social networking sites like MySpace face a continual reality of the need to generate revenue. As they continue to open up their communities to advertizing, they risk alienating their loyal customer bases. People visit the sites to socialize with friends, vs being offered a coupon from Pizza Pizza.

The user base is a major asset of Facebook, and the markets have valued this intellectual capital asset. However, tapping into this reservoir for revenue and shareholder value returns remains illusive. In 2008 Facebook had an estimated $210 million in ad revenue, compared with MySpace's $585 Million (according to eMarketer).

Ad spending on social networking sites totaled an estimated $1.2B in 2008, less than the $1.4B that online research eMarketer had preciously predicted. The shortfall is due to the current financial dip in the economy.With over 160 million users on Facebook, perhaps Facebook with their recent announcement of Facebook Connect have sorted out how.

Value of Facebook Connect

"Facebook Connect is a feature that lets people take their friends with them as they surf the web. But there is an added benefit to marketrs. By allowing users to log in to other websites with their Facebook ID and then funnel back what they do on those sites., Connect provides an opportunity for marketers to interact wiht the Facebook community in a casual way. Higher value user generated content

With a one-click login to Facebook Connect, websites have access to an unprecedented amount of user data. Using this data, sites now have the ability to redefine the way they display user generated content. Gone are the days where all you will see is content from random avatars. Now sites can surface UGC from actual friends. If your friends haven’t made any actions on the site, then we can surface UGC from people like you – maybe fellow alumni or co-workers. Say I’m shopping for a TV on Amazon, the 400+ reviews from people I don’t know have limited value to me compared to a review from my friend or even someone I don’t know who is similar to me.

Get brand content in Facebook without advertising

The strategy of fishing where the fish are is timeless. When time spent online was dominated by the big portals, our media dollars went to buying up ads and unique sponsorships on Yahoo and the like. Although Facebook Connect isn’t an advertising buy, it can accomplish the same goals as one (and in an unintrusive manner). Brands can get their content into Facebook’s viral channels by letting visitors post news feed stories, status messages, photos, events, and more without leaving the website.

Smart brands and agencies will learn that the key to getting content into Facebook is about providing a meaningful value exchange for each Facebook Connect interaction, not prompting their user to post to Facebook at every turn. If a site is successful at giving users a good reason to post content to Facebook, it can make a world of difference to reach and visibility. The strong impact is only partly due to Facebook’s traffic. When brands appear in Facebook via Connect, the impressions interpreted as an individual’s endorsement of a particular product and are not subject to ad tune-out, making the impression far more valuable." (Source: Mashable).

If you are a PowerPoint freak, here is a slideshow created by social media marketing agency bigMETHOD, laying down the FBC basics.

All Facebook has a good listing of the diverse Facebook connect sites.


When Microsoft bought a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook back in October 2007, it paid $240 million dollars for the preferred stock, which meant that the company was valued at roughly 15 billion dollars. A big discussion broke out over whether Facebook was really worth that much, or $15 billion was an unrealistic number.

It turns out that it was, since Facebook values itself at somewhere around $3.7 billion dollars. Facebook’s own assessment of its worth: $8.88 per share, which gives the company a market value of around $3.7 billion - this is clearly well below the $15B unrealistic valuation put on Facebook in October 2007.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

30 Important Innovations from the Last 30 Years

To celebrate their three decades on the air, PBS’ Nightly Business Report teamed up with Knowledge@Wharton, the online research and business analysis journal of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, to select the 30 most important innovations from the last 30 years. The results are in, and the Internet reigns supreme.

The complete results:

Innovation Industry

30. Anti retroviral treatment for AIDS Health Care
29. SRAM flash memory Electronics
28. Stents Health
27. ATMs Finance
26. Bar codes and scanners Retail
25. Bio fuels Biotechnology
24. Genetically modified plants Biotechnology
23. RFID and applications (e.g.EZpass) Electronics
22. Digital photography/videography Electronic
21. Graphic user interface (GUI) Computer Science
20. Social networking via internet Media
19. Large scale wind turbines Energy
18. Photovoltaic Solar Energy Energy
17. Microfinance Finance
16. Media file compression (e.g., jpeg, mpeg, mp3) Computer Science
15. Online shopping/ecommerce/auctions (e.g., eBay) Information Technology
14. GPS Systems Electronics
13. Liquid Crystal Displays Electronics
12. Light emitting diodes (first real devices in
1960s; in products in mid-70s) Electronics
11. Open source software and services (e.g., Linux, Wikipedia) Media
10. Non-invasive laser/robotic surgery (laparoscopy) Health Care
9. Office software (Spreadsheets, word processors) Computer Science
8. Fiber optics Telecommunications
7. Microprocessors Computer Science
6. Magnetic resonance imaging(MRI) Biotechnology
5. DNA testing and sequencing/Human genome mapping Biotechnology
4. E mail Computer Science
3. Mobile phones Telecommunications
2. PC/laptop computers Computer Science
1. Internet/broadband/WWW (browser andHTML) Telecommunications

To compile this list, thousands of nominees were submitted by Nightly Business Report viewers. The finalists were then judged according to seven different criteria determined by senior Wharton School faculty who served as judges:

1. Did it have a direct and/or material effect on quality of life?
2. Did it address a compelling need? Did it solve a compelling problem?
3. Was it a fresh, new breakthrough? Was there a "WOW" factor?
4. Did it change the way business is conducted?
5. Did it increase the efficiency of how resources are used?
6. Did it spark an ongoing stream of new innovations on top of the original innovation?
7. Did it lead to the creation of a vast, new industry?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Social Networking Takes on New Approaches

Analysts have been talking about how Social Networking will be transformed into a new Business Networking platform in 2009. In today's economy, everybody from small businesses to major corporations have been cutting back on their advertising budgets and moving towards Social Networking as the next phenomenon in business marketing.

Networkers United Worldwide ( is a brand new community of social business networkers that share the same vision of helping each other in growing their businesses by referring business to one another, exchanging tips and ideas, educating, promoting and connecting with each other on a localized or global basis.

The group believes in the Giver's Gain Principle. Give to people first, and in return you will get business back. It is a very simple law of attraction. The community was started on LinkedIn and Facebook just a few weeks ago and growing exponentially by the day. Our goal is to have over 500,000 members by March 2009 and 5,000,000 members by the end of the year.

"We are overwhelmed by its success and the quality of our members. The feedback we're getting from our members is only positive for setting up such a great and needed platform for business referrals," says founder Daniel Pansky.

The principle behind this was started in September 2008 when Victoria Blintser (Daniel's wife) decided to expand her LinkedIn profile. Upon expanding her profile and setting up the business group, she is now considered one of the biggest success stories on LinkedIn. This has led to many opportunities including joint venture offers, consulting offers, radio appearances, and the offers just keep rolling in by the day. Four months ago I was a struggling Real Estate broker having problems finding the next deal in one of the toughest Real Estate markets in history. Today, four months later, my business is on turbo charge to where I can't hire enough real estate agents fast enough. We are currently selling bulk portfolios, all thanks to the power of social business networking. is absolutely Free to join and Free to use for the entire business community worldwide. Members can go ahead and utilize the NU Worldwide platform, or set up their own groups pertaining to their desired subject or business. The group offers free services to all their members such as tips, social business networking strategies, and guest moderators from the world's top leaders in Social Business Networking.

CONTACT: Networkers United, Inc., Aventura Daniel Pansky, 954-239-7093 Copyright Business Wire 2009 -0- KEYWORD: United States

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Web 2.0 and HR

Corporate HR departments are saddled with the extremely broad set of tasks associated with personnel management and employee relations. As such, these business units are in an ideal position to make the most of new technologies that now fall under a loose-knit category of next-generation, Internet-based collaborative tools referred to by the name "Web 2.0."

Web 2.0 is a general phrase attached mostly to new communications media, such as blogs, wikis, podcasts and RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds — all technologies used to distribute information and foster a sense of community among a discrete group of individuals.

Indeed, reaching a new level of employee collaboration has become an important goal of many HR departments. Enterprises ranging from far-flung global corporations to small businesses are looking for better ways to manage, motivate and even recruit employees through the use of Internet-based technology.

“I would define Web 2.0 for the HR department as a collection of interactive services, delivered through the Web, which allow employees to take greater ownership of their own experiences within the organization. Web 2.0 will have a substantial impact on all aspects of employee-service delivery, including recruitment, candidate screening, training and performance management,” said Greg Moran, managing partner of Better People LLC, a sales-focused recruitment outsourcing firm.

Oracle Corp. and other vendors refer to corporate Web 2.0 endeavors as "Enterprise 2.0." Amy Wilson, director of Oracle’s human capital management strategy, explained, “Enterprise 2.0 is the use of Web 2.0 technology to transform how we share information within an organization.”

In terms of injecting a corporation with Enterprise 2.0 capabilities, HR can be a great place to start. “Employees can leverage communities to identify goals; use colleague ratings and reviews when choosing professional-development course work; and share informal tips and techniques. They can also subscribe to an RSS feed to jump on upcoming opportunities,” noted Wilson.

Despite the promise of Web 2.0, companies overall have not plunged in to these new technologies. However, some businesses are pondering limited moves in this direction, said Michael Rudnick, global director of portal and intranet consulting at Watson Wyatt Worldwide in Stamford, Conn. “Companies have not appeared ready to roll out team-collaboration suites, blogs, social networks, wikis and MySites for all of their employees as a big bang. They have, however, dipped a toe in the water with pilot use of the technology,” he observed.

While some HR shops are not yet sold on the idea of using Web 2.0 tools for social-computinglike efforts in the corporate setting, many departments are starting to view these new technologies as an on-ramp for internal efficiencies. “Self-service portals are driving a new wave of communications internally for dissemination of important employee data. These portals, typically powered by messaging components, allow employees to check out forms and documents and submit information or make requests,” said Jon Doyle, vice president of business development at CommuniGate Systems, an Internet content-solutions provider based in Mill Valley, Calif.

Employee performance management is another area in which many HR departments seem open to the idea of exploring the use of Web 2.0 technology, noted Alan Todd, chairman of Corporate University Xchange, a Carlisle, Pa.-based company that provides corporate research and advisory services.

“Now it is possible to give each employee a custom view of how he or she fits into the overarching strategy of a corporation," said Todd. "For example, new technology makes it possible for the employee to have a dashboard showing the status of individual task completion and where the employee stands relative to the completion of short- and long-term goals,” he stated.

More and more, new, online learning techniques tied to Web 2.0 technology are becoming a big part of equipping employees with the skills necessary to reach such goals. “The content for online learning programs often resides in a hosted environment, and programs are delivered to the user’s Web browser in customized form,” said Julie Ogilvie, senior director of corporate marketing for SkillSoft, a provider of e-learning solutions such as Open Learning Services Architecture, which incorporates Web 2.0 tools.

Not only must HR departments use online learning and performance monitoring to manage and groom a corporation’s existing work force, these business units are tasked with the often difficult job of recruiting highly qualified talent. “We see more and more of our clients moving away from two-dimensional, Web-based job boards to the more interactive virtual environments that actually improve the reach of their recruiting efforts and aid in candidate screening,” said Don Best, director of marketing at Unisfair Inc., a Menlo Park, Calif.-based vendor that provides online events — such as virtual job fairs — for large clients, including Cisco Systems Inc., The Nielsen Co. and IBM.

While the benefits of Web 2.0 tools are becoming increasingly clear to HR departments, many still associate the technology with more personal, social purposes. Therefore, translating the use of these powerful communication tools into the corporate setting will require some substantial internal change.

“For this transition to be successful, it is important for HR to realize that incorporating Web 2.0 into its organization is as much about providing the tools as it is creating the right culture," said Joe Lichtenberg, vice president of business development at Eluma, a Tewksbury, Mass.-based Web tools vendor. "Senior executives and top management need to demonstrate a willingness to use collaborative technologies themselves — whether that be blogging, contributing to a corporate wiki or other such activities,” he said.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Study of Large Scale Human Networks

There is a small but rapidly emerging thread of research on large-scale human networks. There is diverse research underway based on the digital traces that people leave behind of their communications, through their use of e-mail, mobile phones, instant messaging, and many other tools of the information age. Until recently, the study of social networks (largely within sociology) was almost exclusively based on surveys of who has relationships with whom.

As a result, most research on networks has involved a single snapshot of a small human system. In contrast, the more recent work on call log and instant messaging data involves massively longitudinal data on millions or hundreds of millions of people. It is, however, unclear what these data can tell us. What is the significance, for example, of a phone call between two people? Does it signify, for example, a friendship or a wrong number? The objective of this symposium is to pull together an interdisciplinary panel to discuss the scientific potential of these emerging large-scale network data. Disciplines represented include physics, information science, communications, sociology, medicine, political science, and computer science.

Outlined below is a summary of diverse leaders and their research areas on further understanding large scale human networks and the implications of increasing our intelligence with digital media solutions it is increasingly clear humans are going digitally native.


David Lazer, Harvard*Life in the Network: The Coming Age of Computational Social Science* Large-scale network analysis is based on massive amounts of observations of communication behavior, while small scale network analysis has been based on self report data. Whereas the scientific relevance of the latter has been well established, based on decades of research, it is less clear what the scientific significance of the former. David's research focuses on This examining and understanding the scientific potential of large scale network analysis.

Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
*People in Motion: Studying Human Movement Based on Mobile Phone Data* The next challenge of network research is to go beyond the structure and quantify the dynamics of interconnected systems. A particular difficult facet of this research requires us to understand the temporal and spatial driving forces that govern social, technological and biological networks. Albert's research focuses on the opportunities offered by large datasets collected by mobile phone carriers to explore the dynamical mechanism that drive the activity of social networks as well as the travel pattern of individuals in social systems.

Alex Pentland, MIT*Honest Signals Predict Outcomes in Face-to-Face Interaction Networks* We have developed a wearable sensor `badge', called a sociometer, and used it to analyze thousands of hours of face-to-face interactions among networks of hundreds of people in common situations. These experiments demonstrate that up to 40% of variation in human behavior can be attributed to biological `honest signaling,' an unconscious, evolutionarily ancient communication channel. Pentland's research demonstrates that these honest signals play a fundamental role in human decision making, and are predictive of outcomes in social situations ranging from dating to sales to business management and productivity.

Noshir Contractor, Northwestern*Digital Traces: An Exploratorium for Understanding and Enabling Social Networks* Recent advances in digital technologies invite consideration of organizing as a process that is accomplished by global, flexible, adaptive, and ad hoc networks that can be created, maintained, dissolved, and reconstituted with remarkable alacrity. These technologies also provide comprehensive digital traces of social actions, interactions, and transactions. These data provide an unprecedented Exploratorium to model the socio-technical motivations for creating, maintaining, dissolving, and reconstituting knowledge and social networks. Using examples from research in a wide range of activities such as disaster response, digital media and learning, public health and massively multiplayer online games (WoW - the World of Warcraft), Contractor has developed a visual-analytic framework that is being used to Discover, Diagnose, and Design our social and knowledge networks.

Alessandro Vespignani, Indiana University *Mobility Networks and Contagion Processes* Transportation and mobility networks vary over many time and spatial scales and span international, inter-cultural and linguistic boundaries. The multi-scale nature and complexity of these networks are crucial features in the understanding of epidemic, contagion and connectivity processes in both the biological world and the ITC domain defined by the novel WiFi technologies. Vespignani's research discusses the central statistical features of these networks and the recently developed mathematical tools for the study of weighted and time dependent complex networks. He is also interested on the the impact of the complex features of mobility networks in the definition and study of stylized and realistic contagion models.

For a good source to follow on this research check out David Lazer (, Program on Networked Governance Associate Professor of Public Policy Harvard Kennedy School Harvard University or visit his netgov blog:
Bookmark and Share