Zipf's Law - Deepstash

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Your Life is Driven by Network Effects

Zipf's Law

Zipf's Law

Zipf's law is a mathematical probability that states that in a given set, the most frequently used data value (or word) is used twice as often as the next most common value. This is true in various statistical sets like income distribution in companies, internet traffic, phone calls received, and language.

One of the implications of this law is there are unconscious network forces and mathematical patterns governing our lives, with human beings just being nodes exchanging information.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Network diversity

Our networks are usually formed around shared experiences and they influence the way we see the work, how we think and the opportunities we give and receive.

So a lack of diversity inside our networks can propagate inequitable systems and create echo chambers of perspectives.

Professional networks

They usually comprise the colleagues we work with (team members or project collaborators). It may not seem like it, but we do have a lot of influence over the broader makeup of these networks.

We choose the people we spend time with (at lunch or coffee), the people we mentor or the people we seek advice from. Being intentional about the diversity of that network will result in better decision making for us and our companies.

Social networks

They have an influence over the way we think and ultimately, over our work outputs.

To diversify our social networks, we can start by following and connecting with people that hold different identities and viewpoints.

Social Narrowing

Social Narrowing is a subconscious process in which we are spending time with people who are similar to us.

This phenomenon can be a problem when we need new resources, ideas or a new career.

Change Your Filters
  • When we meet people, we look at them and subconsciously make a decision in our heads about their importance, relevancy or their being of any interest to us.
  • The challenge is to fight these filters and invite people in your life who are of the least interest to you.
  • Identify and connect with people whom you wouldn't normally connect with, adding diversity to your social universe.
People We Don't Reach Out To

The lower your socioeconomic status is, the less diverse are your social networks, as we choose to reach inwards for advice, instead of outwards.

The tweak to apply here is to reach out and ask for advice with the network of people whom you normally will not connect with. Remind yourself of your strengths and values, if you feel intimidated by wanting to take advice out of your comfort zone.

Homo Narrativus
Homo Narrativus

We, humans, seek stories.

We are essentially ‘story finders’ looking for meaning, narrative and shape in everything around us. We tend to not believe in improbable stories and tend to create story threads out of thin air, making them real and believable.

Bias Towards The Individual

Stories built around individuals provide relatability and a sense of being in the shoes of the people involved, living in the narrative.

Our tendency to give a ‘face’ and a story to a group or collection of people made us invent a dominant leader of the group, like the President, or the Team Captain, or the Monarch.

How Fame Alters Our Perceptions
  • The popularity or fame of an individual or a piece of art (like a painting, song or a movie) alters how we perceive it.
  • The characteristics and behaviour of the people among whom fame spreads matters more than the actual merit or quality.
  • A study showed that more people liked the songs that were topping the charts, copying the behaviour of other listeners, and if the same songs were arranged randomly, they were not chosen or liked that much.