What Do We Learn from Our Networks? - Deepstash

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Social networks have a strong effect on our ideas

You may think it was your idea to keep your desk neat or speak up in a meeting, but your behavior was likely influenced by those in your network.

Once we understand social networks, we can use its power to shape workplaces for the better. You can turn an unhappy team into an innovative, collaborative one.

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A network is more than just a group of individuals

A network is more than just a group of individuals

In addition, a network has ties between people.

The connections between individuals are what changes a group to a network.

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We naturally copy others

Your experiences in the world is not only a product of your own desires, actions, and thoughts, but also a product of the desires, actions, and thoughts of people around you.

The things that are seemingly personal to you are actually very strongly influenced by similar traits in other people. You do have agency. You can choose what to do. But you're also affected by what others are doing. Both are true.

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How people connect makes a difference

Studies have shown that you can take a group of people and connect them one way, and they'll be happy, cooperative, and innovative. You can take the same people and join them another way, with a different network topology, and they're unhappy, uncooperative, and stagnant.

The properties like innovation, for example, are then not just properties of individuals, but rather properties of collections of people.

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Identifying influential people

To identify influential people, you need to define the kinds of interactions you're interested in.

For example, you might ask people about many different sorts of ties. "Who do you rely on to do your job well?" "Who do you hang out with after work?" "Who would you trust for a referral for a babysitter?" Then you could consider which individuals are structurally influential for this or that purpose and focus on them.

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Online and offline networks

There are four ways in which online networks differ from offline networks.

  • Scale: It is possible to interact with a huge number of other individuals online.
  • Communality: Online networks facilitate large-scale cooperation.
  • Specificity: It is very easy to find a specific kind of person very quickly, such as online communities with particular interests and tastes.
  • Virtuality: People can pretend to be someone they are not on the internet, for instance, a man can have a female avatar or a woman a male avatar.

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How inequality affects networks

People generally don't think inequality is good, but they may think it is unavoidable. Other people believe inequality can be quite corrosive and negatively affect the health of a community.

Inequality is not the same as the visibility of inequality. In companies, when equality is high, visibility is not harmful. When inequality is high, visibility is harmful. For example, if the wage gap between the CEO and the employee is about five times, then everyone can know what everyone else is making. Everyone then becomes happier and more cooperative. However, if the CEO makes 500 times that of the employee, do not publicize the inequality. That is very corrosive.

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