5846 Social Dynamics: Change in Web-Mediated Geographically Embedded Social Networks

Saturday, February 18, 2012: 1:30 PM
Ballroom A (VCC West Building)
Kathleen M. Carley , Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
As individuals learn they change their beliefs, attitudes and social networks, resulting in changes in who can do and does what.  These social dynamics can be impacted by communication.  Geography can impact this communication by affecting the ease of physical meeting and so reliance on different technologies.  Further, since social networks are geographically embedded, local differences in culture and use of media can have profound impacts.  Different media, however, have different communication properties; e.g., some social media such as the web enable communication to people we have not seen and to masses of individuals.  Using a combination of simulation and empirical data analysis, we explore the potential for information to diffuse, beliefs to be changed, and patterns of activity to spread through different geographical regions when messages are communicated via diverse media.  The geographic regions include both American cities and northern Africa/the mid East.  The media examined include face-to-face, email, websites, twitter and facebook.  The basic communication properties are characterized from an information processing perspective.  We find that access constraints – e.g., literacy and internet penetration can mitigate the value of different technologies. The asymmetry of communications, the ability to “save” information, the rebroadcast capability, and the one-to-many capability can overcome some access issues.  For most users, however, social factors and geographical factors will tend to over-ride technological factors in spreading information, beliefs, and so activity.