May 18th, 2003

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Real Electronic Community

I think when I grow up and become an anthropologist instead of a computer geek I want to study information flows through formal and informal communities and among "friends" on Live Journal. I love watching memes spread just from the perspective of my friends list and I bet it's even more interesting from some higher level global perspective.

Since I'm mainly interested in cognitive anthropology (the study of social cognition and how it is mediated by artifacts) I'd want to see what different strategies people use for choosing "friends". I'd like to see what different parts of the global "friends" map looks like. I'd like to see if there are different classes of users (e.g. people who mostly absorb content, people who mostly produce content, people who mainly serve as a bridge to pass memes from one community to another (these would be the people who post a lot of links in their journals to other journals). I'd like to see how these different classes interact. I'd like to see what kinds of memes spread quickly and which one's don't. I mean look at this, here's a centralized source of a HUGE amount of raw data about how people communicate with each other as a large group.

There's so much to study here! I want a grant, and a degree.