Social Network Theory: Strength in Numbers

This is my first time approaching the subject of networks outside of what I have (both unwittingly & knowingly) participated in with friends, family, and peers. So I took to briefing some of Professor Diamantaras’s papers for inspiration, of particular interest was his work with colleagues at Virginia Tech on the topic of “Simulating Social Network Formation: A Case-Based Decision Theoretic Model”, where I found a description of Social Network Theory attributes.

The Social Network Theory suggests that in relationships between agents within a network, agents are more inclined to engage with individual agents that offer more network capital, or social capital that is recognized as ties and links within the network. The reasoning is important in decision-making process because the prevailing thought is the personal attributes of an individual’s character are less important than the network capital they have when deciding who to engage. That is, the most often choice will be the candidate agent with a larger network of relationships that he/she can bring to our engaging agent’s metaphorical table, so (social capital = the agent’s perceived network links) in this theory’s case.

This is something I have often practiced both consciously and subconsciously but never considered in any further terms of application outside of what is second nature. Like how sometimes seeing crowds gathering around particular individuals like the “cool guy” effect in school. What is referred to in the paper as (High Status Flow) means a large amount of links and this factor can be a major determining factor of personal & industrial goals, success and extent. The position of High Status Flow would be assigned to whomever we use as our “cool guy” (or gal) and we could measure the strength of that flow by the number of links. I would reckon that a lot of this type of interaction and decision-making could be substantiated through an observation of most political systems; in fact I’m willing to bet it has been used.

While I couldn’t read through the entirety of his paper, due to the disparity between mine and Dr. D’s acumen with a shortage of time to bridge that gap, I can’t speak to the authors’ thoughts on stronger links. However, to me another important factor worthy of our consideration is the strength of connections, because the quality of each connection is as vital to me as the amount of connections one person has, and will likely play just as important a role in what I will refer to as Network Progression. What can, or does account for link strength, both as a measure of familiarity and accessibility? Moving forward I will be interested to see how we model these types of situations so as to provide an accurate way of estimating individual or even group behavior.

If you have any ideas feel free to share !

-Shane Smith


Author: Shane

I'm a good guy; if you want my opinion.