I found a new tool in Facebook – the Friends Wheel and I was fascinated, not just because of the pretty colors, but because it replicates a sociological concept I was teaching about in a linguistics class.
The one time I did a language and society class the concept of “social networks” came up and we distinguished “superdense” from other networks. In superdense network, not only do all members know each other, but each person interacts independently with all members of the group. I compare it to the Friends TV show where Ross and Monica are friends, but Monica is married to Ross’s old college roommate and Ross dates Monica’s roommate.
But that’s nothing in comparison with my very own Facebook friends wheel with Penn State staff. It’s so dense it’s string art.
This is a little artificial because I really only joined Facebook because other Penn Staters were in there. On the other hand, it is a good reflection of how Penn State operates – we all have to build mini-relations with each member in the group.
Superdense networks can also be closed if people don’t talk to outsiders. Fortunately, I still have a non-Facebook life that’s a little more open….I think.