Scientific Sense Podcast

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Network dominance

A recent study in the Proceedings of Royal Academy: Biological Sciences shows that the breadth and depth of one’s network are important determinants of skills acquisition and retention. This makes intuitive sense but now data proves it as well. In the context of expanding electronic social networks, it will be interesting to assess the correlation between skills and network scope.

Human brains have always been terribly constrained in the absence of external stimuli. An interesting question is whether the quality of one’s network is as important as its size. Those with stringent criteria for network building with ex.ante biases are likely to build “pure” networks. Such networks, however, are unlikely to extend the thought processes of the participants. On the other hand, promiscuous network builders may build very large systems quickly but may derive little benefit from it as diversity may create a level of noise that is incomprehensible. Logically, then, there is an optimal network building strategy to maximize skills building.

The next battleground – social networks – present a challenging design problem for humans.

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