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Being Social

November 25, 2012

A few weeks ago, we were both at the Interdisciplinary Workshop on Information and Decision in Social Networks (WIDS).  I learned a lot of interesting things, met a lot of interesting people, and generally had a great time.  As I had said in my talk itself, I think conversations are really the whole key to conferences and had several really engaging ones. WIDS being in Cambridge, of course I also met a good number of people outside the conference.  Another nice part of the trip was a return to Edgerton House, where Ankur Mani was kind enough to host me.

You had mentioned opinion dynamics in a previous post and your work at WIDS was also on this topic, but with a decision-making twist.  I found it fascinating, but I’ll let you pass on any details you want to.  How many people brought up the election when they talked to you about it?

It seems that using mobile phone data is becoming huge these days.  In one talk, Vincent Blondel talked about a publicly released data set from Ivory Coast that is the subject of a current competition. In my session, a talk from the group of Marta Gonzalez revisited the navigability of small worlds using mobile telephony data.  This same group has been interested in ‘walking around‘, looking at it using spectral techniques I like.

Since WIDS was primarily an academic event, there was more talk of life and much less explicit talk of social business, even though it is a potential game-changer for knowledge work.  Notwithstanding, did you pick up any particularly interesting tidbits relevant for business?

To close, let me ask a random question: I know you’re not a huge combinatorics guy, but do you know what the major challenge is in extending this work to larger subgraphs?

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