network theory views social relationships in terms of
nodes and ties as indicated in MySpace .com, Friendster
or other network websites. Nodes are the individual
actors within the networks, and ties are the relationships
between the actors. There can be many kinds of ties
between the nodes. In its most simple form, a social
network is a map of all of the relevant ties between
the nodes being studied. The network can also be used
to determine the social capital of individual actors.
These concepts are often displayed in a social network
diagram, where nodes are the points and ties are the
shape of the social network helps determine a network's
usefulness to its individuals. Smaller, tighter networks
can be less useful to their members than networks with
lots of loose connections (weak ties) to individuals
outside the main network. More "open" networks,
with many weak ties and social connections, are more
likely to introduce new ideas and opportunities to their
members than closed networks with many redundant ties.
In other words, a group of friends who only do things
with each other already share the same knowledge and
opportunities. A group of individuals with connections
to other social worlds is likely to have access to a
wider range of information. It is better for individual
success to have connections to a variety of networks
rather than many connections within a single network.
Similarly, individuals can exercise influence or act
as brokers within their social networks by bridging
two networks that are not directly linked (called filling
power of social network theory stems from its difference
from traditional sociological studies, which assume
that it is the attributes of individual actors -- whether
they are friendly or unfriendly, smart or dumb, etc.
-- that matter. Social network theory produces an alternate
view, where the attributes of individuals are less important
than their relationships and ties with other actors
within the network. This approach has turned out to
be useful for explaining many real-world phenomena,
but leaves less room for individual agency, the ability
for individuals to influence their success, so much
of it rests within the structure of their network.
networks have also been used to examine how companies
interact with each other, characterizing the many informal
connections that link executives together, as well as
associations and connections between individual employees
at different companies. These networks provide ways
for companies to gather information, deter competition,
and even collude in setting prices or policies.
small world phenomenon is the hypothesis that the chain
of social acquaintances required to connect one arbitrary
person to another arbitrary person anywhere in the world
is generally short. The concept gave rise to the famous
phrase six degrees of separation after a 1967 small
world experiment by psychologist Stanley Milgram which
found that two random US citizens were connected by
an average of six acquaintances. Current internet experiments
continue to explore this phenomenon, including the Ohio
State Electronic Small World Project (http://smallworld.sociology.ohio-state.edu/html/homepage.html)
and Columbia's Small World Project (http://smallworld.sociology.columbia.edu/).
As of 2005, these experiments confirm that about five
to seven degrees of separation are sufficient for connecting
any two people through the internet.
such as myspacecom promoting the Circle of Friends online
social networks started appearing in 2002 when the term
was used to describe the means of networking in virtual
communities and became popular in 2003 with the advent
of websites such as MySpace.com, Friendster, Tribe.net
and LinkedIn. There are over 200 social networking sites,
though Friendster is one of the most successful at using
the Circle of Friends technique. The popularity of these
sites rapidly grew, and major companies have entered
the Internet social networking space. For example, Google
launched orkut on 22 January 2004.
these communities, an initial set of founders sends
out messages inviting members of their own personal
networks to join the site. New members repeat the process,
growing the total number of members and links in the
network. Sites then offer features such as automatic
address book updates, viewable profiles, the ability
to form new links through "introduction services,"
and other forms of online social connections. Social
networks can also be organized around business connections,
as for example in the case of ReferNet or Shortcut.