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A spy in the house of love

By: Raymund Fernandez May 17,2016 - 09:34 PM

And so it seems that the social networks have significant effect on the outcome of elections. This was the main premise of a conversation I had with friends who were, of course, more knowledgeable than I on this issue.

And the conversation went on to memes, how they are defined, terminologies related to Facebook and so on. One has to spend time in it to understand it completely, they told me. One has to go deep into it, pressing one site after another, one friend after another, to “lurk,” as it were, like a “spy in the house of love,” which is the title of a blues number by Jim Morrison of Doors. The social networks are a whole body of knowledge, a universe, if you will. And how can one really fully tap into it? But I ought to try anyway, they said.

There is power here. And as the conversation went, the social networks have a lot to do with marketing everything, even politicians. And indeed, as I watched CNN, there was an interview with a specialist who asked: Between a candidate with long years of experience in government, a long list of qualifications, the pedigree, as it were: Between this candidate and another one with something like 5 million followers on Twitter, who has the higher chance of being elected?

Being the techno-ignoramus that I am, I waited for the answer. It never came. It is a no-brainer, as it seems. The question was rhetorical. Whut?

But how does one get 5 million followers on Twitter? Can one do that by hiring a building full of people whose job description is mainly to share and keep sharing feeds, engaging the public with comments, along the way of establishing a network of 5 million followers? Is there a science to it?

But being the old-school person that I am, instead of spending more time on Facebook, I went instead to doing web research on the topic of “the flocking mechanism.” For while the power of the social network is an interesting area, this will have to be something I must learn over the course of time rather than immediately. I have to admit to a low tolerance to socializing. All the less so in the virtual world; In this case, I am surely not a “socialist.”

Thus, I came across a study entitled “Flocking of Multi-agent Dynamical Systems Based on Pseudo-leader Mechanism” by scientists from Hong Kong headed by Jin Zhou, et al.

These scientists listed three principles related to flocking: “Collision Avoidance: steer to avoid collision with nearby flockmates (short-range repulsion); Velocity Matching: steer to match velocity with nearby flockmates; And, Flock Centering: steer to stay close to nearby flockmates (long-range attraction).”

And I wondered immediately if the social networks may be studied along the principles of the flocking mechanism. I find this idea interesting. The social networks are all about information. The truthfulness of information seems not to be the central argument. What is more elemental is how information and groups of people actually behave or can be made to behave inside the complex paradigm of the social networks.

Information and people inside the network do seem to school. And it seems they can be herded. And it would be nice to understand how.

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TAGS: CNN, Doors, love, relationship

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