Social Physics and Rendell et al, Social Learning, Science 4/10 Influence Model & Idea Flow s. 1 . Big Data is good for interpolation epidemic spread. Social Physics book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. From one of the world's leading data scientists, a landmark tour of. Print Get a PDF version of this webpage PDF 'Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread–The Lessons from a New Science' by Alex Pentland.
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Introduction. In Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread-The Lessons from a New Science, Alex Pentland introduces the readers to a new field of science: social. Social Physics: How Good Ideas. Spread—The Lessons from a New Science ( Penguin Press, ). The event was moderated by Ann R. and. Alex Pentland's new book Social Physics, How Good Ideas Spread - The from a New Science (The Penguin Press, ) will reach a great.
Over years of groundbreaking experiments, he has distilled remarkable discoveries significant enough to become the bedrock of a whole new scientific field: social physics. Our most important habits of action—and most basic notions of common sense—are wired into us through our coordination in social groups. Social physics is about idea flow, the way human social networks spread ideas and transform those ideas into behaviors. Thanks to the millions of digital bread crumbs people leave behind via smartphones, GPS devices, and the Internet, the amount of new information we have about human activity is truly profound. Until now, sociologists have depended on limited data sets and surveys that tell us how people say they think and behave, rather than what they actually do. Pentland shows that, in fact, humans respond much more powerfully to social incentives that involve rewarding others and strengthening the ties that bind than incentives that involve only their own economic self-interest. At every level of interaction, from small groups to large cities, social networks can be tuned to increase exploration and engagement, thus vastly improving idea flow.
The sciences that focus on human behavior, meaning the social sciences, have traditionally relied mainly on surveys and lab experiments in their investigations. While valuable to a degree, these sources of evidence do have their shortcomings.
Most significantly, surveys offer but indirect evidence of human behavior and can also be compromised by deception and self-deception ; while lab experiments tend to be somewhat artificial, and fail to capture the complexities of real life.
Recently, however, new digital technology has opened up a whole new way to study human behavior. This proves to be the case since mobile devices and sensors of all kinds are now able to record a dizzying array of human activity—everything from where we go, to what we download, to whom we interact with and for how long, to our body language, and even our moods etc. When placed in the hands of social scientists these new sources of information can prove very valuable and are far preferable than either surveys or lab experiments ; for they allow scientists to study us in our natural environments—out in the real world—and they also allow scientists to study what we actually do, rather than what we say which are sometimes quite different.
The method of investigating human behavior in our natural environments using digital technology has come to be called reality mining, and it is revolutionizing the social sciences. One of the pioneers and leaders in the field of reality mining is Alex Pentland, a researcher out of MIT. Specifically, Pentland uses reality mining to investigate the social physics in a wide range of groups and situations, from social and peer groups; to social media platforms; to institutional settings such as schools and businesses; to even whole cities.
And in his new book Social Physics: Indeed, Pentland has found that much of our behavior is dominated by the influence of our close relations and the peer groups we are embedded in—everything from our diet and body weight to our political opinions and all things in between.
The influence of our social world is so great, in fact, that Pentland argues it is much more appropriate to think of ourselves as group-oriented than self-directed. This is important because Western society as a whole tends to take the opposite view. The result is that many of our policies and institutions are ill-fitted to our true nature—which leads to less than desirable outcomes.
Thankfully, Pentland does offer some advice with regards to how we can re-design our policies and institutions in a way that better accommodates our nature. Specifically, Pentland has found that the most creative and productive groups tend to have something very important in common: In terms of explaining why this pattern works best Pentland argues that the interactions outside of the group are important in becoming familiar with many different types of ideas, while the interactions within the group function to winnow out what are the best ideas, and also help build common norms of behavior and trust that allow the group to work well and cooperatively together.
Taken together, the findings of social physics have deep repercussions for how we manage our lives; the groups and organizations of which we are a part; and even our governments. What follows is a full executive summary of Social Physics: As mentioned in the introduction, the social sciences have traditionally relied mainly on surveys and lab experiments in their investigations of human behavior. These sources of evidence do have their bright spots; however, they also have serious limitations.
Take surveys, for example. Surveys are valuable because they give scientists access to the inner, mental world of their subjects. Ideally, at least. The problem with surveys is that people are not always willing to tell the truth on them—and there is also the problem of self-deception, and the difficulty of knowing our own minds.
Indeed, there is good evidence that most of us deceive ourselves at least some of the time, and that our explanations for why we do what we do are not always accurate.
Thus surveys suffer from errors of subjectivity. Also, surveys tend to rely on stock answers, and so have difficulty capturing the subtle differences between people. The result is that surveys tend to produce results that play to stereotypes loc. When it comes to lab experiments, these are valuable in that they are able to capture human behavior directly unlike surveys. However, the problem with lab experiments is that they are, well, in the lab.
And you simply cannot capture the complexities of the real world in a lab. Pentland sums it up thus: They also miss the critical fact that the details about the people we interact with, and how we interact with them, matter as much as market forces or class structures.
Social phenomena are really made up of billions of small transactions between individuals—people trading not only goods and money but also information, ideas, or just gossip.
There are patterns in those individual transactions that drive phenomena such as financial crashes and Arab springs.
Digital Sensors. Fortunately, recent advances in digital technology are now allowing social scientists to overcome the shortfalls of surveys and lab experiments, and capture human behavior at a much finer level of detail.
Indeed, digital sensors are now able to capture an astonishing array of human behavior—including everything from location and speed; to body language and posture; to communications and face-to-face interactions; to downloads and beyond.
The sensors in question can either be worn by subjects as a badge, say , or placed in mobile devices, and Pentland does indeed use both in his experiments. Take sensors in mobile phones, for example. The data collected by funf include continuous collection of over twenty-five phone-based signals—including location, accelerometry, Bluetooth-based device proximity, communication activities, installed applications, currently running applications, and multimedia and file system information, as well as additional data generated by our experimental applications.
When it comes to wearable sensors like the sociometric badge , these do not capture quite the range of information that can be collected through sensors in mobile phones; however, they are able to capture quite a bit more detail when it comes to face-to-face interactions—including the body language of the subject. It incorporates a location sensor, accelerometers to record body language, a proximity sensor to determine who else is around, and a microphone that notes whether anyone is speaking.
To avoid privacy violations, however, the device does not record speech content or video. Using these types of sensors, Pentland and other social scientists are finding that they are not only able to learn about the specific behaviors that are being measured directly, but other behaviors besides which can be inferred indirectly—such as the mood, personality, and political persuasion of the individual; the social structure of the groups they are a part of; their income level and loan risk; as well as their risk of medical and psychological problems.
And not only can digital sensors be used to predict individual behavior, it turns out they can also be used to understand and predict societal phenomenon such as financial bubbles and crashes, and even revolutions loc. With the additional explanatory and predictive power that digital sensors provide, it is no wonder that the use of these sensors is beginning to reshape the social sciences loc. And this is really just the beginning; for, as Pentland points out, more and more data is becoming available all the time, and the sensors used to record this data are continually expanding in range and sophistication.
What this means is that the socials sciences are likely to depend ever more on digital technology moving forward loc. The threat to privacy [and what we can do about it] is indeed a major topic in the book, and it is one we will return to below—in Part IV. As mentioned in the introduction, the practice of using information from digital sensors to investigate human behavior is called reality mining.
This is a subfield of reality mining Pentland calls social physics. Human Beings as Self-Directed Vs. Human Beings as Group-Oriented. One of the most important findings to come out of social physics thus far has to do with just how important social interaction is in influencing our behavior. As mentioned in the introduction, Pentland has found that much of our behavior is driven by the influence of our peer groups and close relations as we shall see in a moment.
This is significant because the idea that we are predominantly group-oriented creatures runs counter to the Western view that we are, at essence, self-directed actors—an idea that has held sway in the West since the enlightenment.
People were flattered by being recognized as individuals, and by being called rational, and the idea soon wormed its way into the belief systems of nearly everyone in upper-class Western society. Despite resistance from Church and State, this idea of rational individuality replaced the assumption that truth only came from god and king.
When it comes to the social forces that influence us most we may boil them down to two main ones: We shall begin with peer groups first. Peer groups are made up of individuals who share a characteristic, interest or occupation. Given their shared characteristics, interests, and occupations, the members of peer groups often find themselves frequenting the same places—such as restaurants, shops, nightclubs, entertainment venues etc. This means that the members of peer groups often come into close contact with one another.
For these reasons peers may well become acquaintances, and even friends with one another—but not necessarily. Still, because the places we go tend to be filled with members of our peer groups, our peers come to provide the social backdrop of our world.
So, just how influential is this social backdrop? Pentland has found that it is very influential indeed. For example, in one study Pentland and colleagues Anmol Madan and David Lazer set out to investigate the health behaviors in an undergraduate dorm for the period of one year. Specifically, Pentland wanted to see how the diet and weight of the students was influenced by various factors and forces loc. Interestingly, the study found that the diet and weight of the subjects was not influenced at all by the diet and weight of their friends loc.
When it came to peers, though, it was a different story. Indeed, the study found that the single biggest factor in influencing the diet and weight of the subjects was the diet and weight of their peers—and not only that, but the influence of peers was stronger than all other factors combined!
And further, social interaction with close friends who experienced weight change showed no significant effect at all. A similar effect was also found when we examined eating habits, with exposure to peers being the key variable.
Idea flow sometimes depends more on seeing what people actually do than on hearing what they say they do. In fact, exposure to the behavior examples that surrounded each individual dominated everything else we examined in this study. Pentland has also observed similar results when it comes to such things as personal interests, downloading behavior, and even political views.
Take political views, for example. Pentland and a team of colleagues conducted a study wherein they investigated the political views and voting behavior of a group of students at a university.
In order to determine what influenced this behavior, the team gave the students some standard questionnaires about their political views on the run-up to a presidential election, and then tracked their social interactions using the funf software installed on their smartphones loc. Once again, the study found that the single biggest factor in explaining the political views and voting behavior of the students was the social background that surrounded them and once again, friends had very little influence here.
This collective opinion effect was very clear: More exposure to similar views made the students more extreme in their own views… But what did not predict their voting behavior? The views of people they talked politics with, and the views of their friends. Just as with weight gain, it was the behavior of the surrounding peer group—the set of behavior examples that they were immersed in—that was the most powerful force in driving idea flow and shaping opinion.
How Peer Groups Influence Us: Slowly but Surely and Often Unconsciously. So, when it comes to our behaviors and habits, it appears these are largely influenced by the peer groups around us. However, it must be noted that the process of picking up behaviors and habits from our peers does not come quickly or easily nor is it necessarily conscious [loc. Indeed, Pentland has found that the adoption of new behaviors and habits most often takes repeated exposures. Just why is this the case? Well, it appears that if we are to change our behavior and habits we need good evidence that the new behaviors and habits will in fact be beneficial—and this good evidence is only achieved when we see many people exhibiting the behavior successfully.
When repeated exposure and perceptual validation is present, however, adoption becomes highly likely. Why Peer Groups Influence Us: The Benefits of Social Learning. The individualists among us may be tempted to frown on this phenomenon as herd behavior.
However, as a survival strategy it makes very good sense. The writing style contained a hint of sales pitch at times, but the concepts are interesting, and are founded on a number of peer reviewed journal articles. The appendices contain a lot of the mathematics, methodology, and development information, and the text and citations refer to the journal articles to delve into this in more depth, while keeping the text explanation accessible to a general audience, if still a bit jargony.
All of this is predicated on "big-data" analysis and computational s The writing style contained a hint of sales pitch at times, but the concepts are interesting, and are founded on a number of peer reviewed journal articles. All of this is predicated on "big-data" analysis and computational social science. The author makes some interesting proposals to increase the flow of ideas and innovation, from a small group level, to within workgroups and companies, to cities, and society at large.
He posits that improving idea flow will solve a wide range of society's problems. Improving idea flow includes reducing group-think where networks of people are too densely interconnected and recursive, while improving connections to isolated individuals to bring in different information.
This occurs through exploration behavior--establishing connections outside your normal circles, while changing the actions and behavior to build better habits and collective intelligence in your network involves engagement.
The focus is to improve the quality of collective intelligence, productivity and creativity. He describes how this can be done within organizations, and then shares a vision for data-driven cities, using sensing and agile systems to improve the flow of ideas, as well as making infrastructure more adaptive to the needs of its inhabitants.
These ideas are very interesting and compelling, but despite the assurances he would see put in place to ensure these systems are not abused, I'm still concerned. He champions private ownership of personal data, rather than corporations or the government, so that users can make informed choices about what they share to maintain their privacy. He also proposes a method to share selected information with services anonymously or selectively. Yet as this data and the tools to analyze it become more and more important, the incentives for abuse commensurately increase.
He proposes using big data analytics from all of this data to make adaptive policy. But even if individuals own their personal data, and even if the process of using it is transparent, only a small number of people will be able to tell if the data is being cherry picked or how the algorithms analyzing the data works. Selfish actors could skew public or private policy in their favor behind the scenes while leading everyone to believe the outcome is in the public interest or the result of a fair practice.
Whether you are comfortable with what the author proposes or not, this is something we need to come to grips with. The author calls it "Promethean Fire" because it can warm us or burn us depending on how it's used. His vision for this phenomenon is a little utopian, and shows the promising ways it can be used, but we need to look much harder at preventing its abuse.
Either way, it's happening. Sharp, fast, and smart book about new approach to analysis of and action in networked societies and data-rich environment. The book offers overview of a broad range of researches conducted at or led by Alex Pentland from MIT, all connected by central idea of "Social Physics". Pentland argues that central for our networked society is flow of ideas, and by regulating it we could get better results. Our Data Rich environment offers many opportunities for measuring and designing these flows.
The boo Sharp, fast, and smart book about new approach to analysis of and action in networked societies and data-rich environment. The book resonates strongly with a number of other books I've read recently on complexity and networks. For instance, what Gen. McChrystal did intuitively in Iraq see "Team of Teams" http: Movement towards networked society give a new light to "The End of Average: The "Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels: How Human Values Evolve" http: However, the book is not without problems.
I hesitated between 5 starts for ideas and 3 starts for style. The downside of the book is its nature, this is de facto promotion pamphlet of author. It is peppered with mentioning of every company he set up and every PhD student he engaged not necessarily successful, many references are to conference presentations, rather than books or peer reviewed papers.
Jul 20, Brennan rated it really liked it. Overall I loved the book, and if Good Reads allowed for it, I'd have given it a 3. Maybe that sounds contradictory, let me explain. The first half of the book is solid. How good ideas spread based social group dynamics, lateral conversations within strict, vertical hierarchies, how engagement is achieved between employees to increase productivity. If this all sounds a little dry, Pentland manages to make it lively with examples from real life applications he and his research team conducted.
The second half concerns itself with cities, and it's here I'm torn. Full disclosure: I think cities are the solutions to all of our problems. So take this with a grain of salt. Primarily, the argument in the latter half of the book is that we need to find a way to use personal data to create a public, open source meta data collection so that citizens can best assess the needs of the city. While this is accurate, and I'd love it, we run into a few problems here.
One, there's a lot of vagueness around how the data privacy is secured. Saying we need a New Deal for Data is fantastic, but achieving it is another step. Secondly, Pentland takes one too many jabs at current solutions to urban problems while having only hopes and promises to go on. As an example, he makes the assertion that congestion pricing is not only bad, it's a system that rewards the rich. It's beyond me how congestion pricing, which taxes vehicles used within city limits, would punish the poor when they're already likely taking public transit.
As for those on the fringe in the middle class, asking them to ride the train instead of paying for parking in the city may be an inconvenience, but it's hardly confiscatory. Moreover, the externalities congestion creates would be removed, which economically speaking is an additional cost savings. It's arguments like these that appear one-sided intentionally to favor his arguments.
Having said all of this, the data does display a side of an argument that is certainly worth looking into, especially if communal, open-source data is achievable in the near future. Jul 18, Liam rated it liked it. Like sculpting raw clay into a beautiful statue, over time their story becomes more and more compelling.
Finally they decide that it is time to act on it, to bring it into the light and test it against reality. To these people, the practice of harvesting, winnowing, and sculpting ideas feels like play. In fact, some of them call i "The most productive people are constantly developing and testing a new story, adding newly discovered ideas to the story and then trying it out on everyone they meet. In fact, some of them call it 'serious play.
For the buddies that had the most interactions with their assigned target, the social network incentive worked almost eight times better than the standard market approach. If we looked at cities with greater than average rates of exploration in the credit card data, we found that in subsequent years they had a higher GDP, a larger population, and a greater variety of stores and restaurants. It makes sense that more exploration, which results in a greater number of interactions between current norms and new ideas, would be a driver of innovative behavior.
Such a mechanism also allows users to safely grant and revoke data access, to share data anonymously without needing a trusted third party, and to monitor and audit data uses.
Feb 17, Rishav Agarwal rated it liked it. A good place to start for anyone who would like to know more about Sandy's amazing work in understanding social connections. The writing is a bit dry so do treat it as a longish review paper and not a pop science novel.
Apr 15, YHC rated it liked it. Very interesting book. Advances the seemingly obvious claim that the increased flow of ideas between and among human agents whether, e. Makes the further claim that idea flow increases as a function of a small number of variables, such as the relative level of engagement of agents with each other, and their relative level of exposure to the innovative id Very interesting book. Makes the further claim that idea flow increases as a function of a small number of variables, such as the relative level of engagement of agents with each other, and their relative level of exposure to the innovative ideas of other agents especially those outside their networks.
What's most interesting about the book are the empirical claims it makes, and the tests the author, his students, and his colleagues have devised to generate them.
Social Physics is not a blueprint for doing so, nor the last word, but it's a hugely suggestive call to arms for specialists and laymen alike to pursue further studies in this area. My only criticism: Even so, Social Physics strikes me as an essential read.
Pentland and friends are clearly on to something Feb 14, Sean Kottke rated it really liked it Shelves: The key take-aways about the ideal conditions for effective idea flow dovetail nicely with other notable recent works on group dynamics and innovation such as The Rainforest. Organizations that allow their members to be prolific explorers of diverse ideas and provide them with rich opportunities to exchange and expose each other to those ideas will thrive.
Not a surprising finding there, but the research-based insights into how face-to-face and virtual peer networks may be incentivized to acco The key take-aways about the ideal conditions for effective idea flow dovetail nicely with other notable recent works on group dynamics and innovation such as The Rainforest.
Not a surprising finding there, but the research-based insights into how face-to-face and virtual peer networks may be incentivized to accomplish these objectives are an important piece of puzzle. The mathematical models may strike some readers as the epitome of Henri Bergson's definition of comedy as "something mechanical encrusted upon the living," but the real-world experimental research bears it out.
However, the biggest deal here is how eerily close the possibilities and policy implications of Social Physics are to the philosophical underpinnings of the true believers in Dave Eggers' The Circle.
Here lie the tools to take us from here to there, whether that excites you or scares the hell out of you. Apr 28, Bett Correa-Bollhoefer rated it it was amazing. Social Physics is an excellent book on how to create an innovative culture in your organization. The big take-a-ways: Creative people do the following steps 1. Absorb ideas from diverse sources 2. Taking these new ideas that come out of the tests and testing them on more diverse people Ideas can only "flow" by people communicating them with others.
Face to face meetings are the strongest way to create a connectio Social Physics is an excellent book on how to create an innovative culture in your organization. Face to face meetings are the strongest way to create a connection between two people AND ensure that they will share ideas. People need diverse sets of people to share their ideas with. In a meeting when ideas are being shared, each person must be allowed to speak.
If one person hogs the time by talking too much, ideas will not be shared. Conversation turn taking is critical. The more women who attend a meeting the more the meeting will tend to generate creative ideas by ensuring that everyone gets a voice in the discussion. Star performers build networks and make people feel part of a team. Jun 14, Tom rated it really liked it. This book is different from most social theory books as instead of simply promoting ways of communication and how make society work better cooperatively, it uses big data to prove if methods work or not.
I wouldn't say it's ground breaking, but offers a unique perspective that hasn't been offered before. My complaint with the book is that near the end, it felt like a doctorate thesis about looser privacy regulations so he can get better access to individuals data for his own personal research.
Th This book is different from most social theory books as instead of simply promoting ways of communication and how make society work better cooperatively, it uses big data to prove if methods work or not. The book could have also explored topics more throughly, as some chapters felt rushed to the point they were briefly explained, then Pentland would conclude with a short description that his data proved otherwise based not a lot of actually data in the chapter but because he said so.
Feb 08, Elly Stroo Cloeck rated it liked it. Combineer de twee en je hebt dit intrigerende boek van Alex Pentland: Sociale Big Data. Niet alleen kan hij met de resultaten gedrag voorspellen predictive analytics , maar ook hoe gedrag zich verspreidt, als de griep zeg maar.
Sterker nog: Ja ja, en je privacy dan? Maar ook daar heeft hij een antwoord op in dit bijna wetenschappelijke boek dat veel details geeft, tot aan de algoritmes aan toe. Dat is het werkgebied van de sociale fysica: Klinkt droog, maar dat is het bepaald niet. De data die worden gebruikt zijn telefoongegevens, pinbetalingen, gps-gegevens, enzovoorts. Een badge, de zogenoemde sociometer, verzamelt elke 16 miliseconde data over locatie, communicatie, lichaamstaal, spreektoon, wie er in de buurt is, workflow, taken van de drager en nog veel meer.
Dat zou ik weleens willen zien! Dit levert jou en je omgeving meer succes op. Deze relatie heeft Pentland aangetoond in diverse onderzoeken. Dodelijk voor innovatie. Pentland meet die balans door reality mining in organisaties, laat er wat algoritmes op los, en kan daardoor redelijk nauwkeurig succes en innovatie voorspellen. Als we ons niet zo lekker voelen verandert ons gedrag: Als een hele woonwijk of stad dit doet, kan dit dus een hele vroege waarschuwing zijn voor een epidemie.
Super nuttig lijkt me. En wie is daar eigenaar van?
Hiermee werd armoede en etnisch geweld onderzocht. In de datapool worden de data bewerkt met algoritmen en alleen de geaggregeerde resultaten worden verstrekt, niet de data zelf. Hierbij werd een juridisch contract gebruikt, waarin het doel en gebruik van de data precies is omschreven. Pentland voorziet een dergelijke structuur, OpenPDS, voor alle dataverzamelingen, wereldwijd.
Het individu is eigenaar en bepaalt voor welk doel hij zijn data ter beschikking stelt. De mogelijke nieuwe toepassingen van Big Data, en hoe dit de gezondheid in de wereld kan bevorderen en armoede kan bestrijden, vond ik erg inspirerend. Door de gedetailleerde uitwerking van de onderzoeken raakte ik er ook van overtuigd dat dit allemaal haalbaar is.
Inhoudelijk is dit boek top! Ik had wel wat moeite met de schrijfstijl. De auteur is een autoriteit op dit gebied en dat laat hij je weten ook. In het begin verleent het wel de nodige geloofwaardigheid aan zijn stellingen, maar door de overdaad vond ik het al snel irritant worden. Amerikaanse stijl opschepperij die in Nederland minder goed valt, denk ik. Daarnaast is het geschreven in een wat pompeuze stijl en zit er redelijk wat jargon in, als een wetenschappelijk artikel.
Daardoor moet je heel geconcentreerd lezen. De grafieken zijn oorspronkelijk in kleur, maar nu in tinten-grijs afgedrukt, waardoor de interpretatie best lastig is.
Tenslotte is de vertaling soms wat onlogisch: We kennen die al met chips voor toegang tot kantoren en de centrale printer, maar ook met tegoeden voor de betaling in de personeelskantine. Als je door deze uiterlijkheden heen kunt prikken, heb je een bijzonder interessant boek in handen! ISBN 94 8. Maven heeft mij een gratis boek toegestuurd voor deze recensie. Apr 29, Mihai rated it it was amazing. One of the best books on social physics.
It follows, using big data, the ways in witch not only good ideas are created but also how societies develop. Its main objective is to ask what are the roles and evolution of diversity, engagement, social trust, social intelligence and innovation, following both business management and urban development.
A must read for those who want to be up to speed on the subject.
Alex Pentland is a numbers guy, and this book represents his initial attempts to parlaying to a lay readership his myriad published studies, summaries, and academic analyses of big data-derived computer models. The book is subdivided into three sections, but near as I can tell, there are really only two big ideas here: What is "Social Physics," exactly, and how is it distinct from social psychology, economics, etc.?
Who talked to who when, who trusted who, what ideas came in how did they spread. DE: How are you actually tracking this communication? Their mobile phone conversations, who are meeting in a bar, what kind of things are you analyzing?
You have to write it out and get informed consent and the government approves it. They would give us credit card records for what they bought. They would give us contact information for who they messaged on email and Facebook, and then we pestered them with a million questionnaires, the sort of standard social science things.
DE: What did you find? AP: Well, you find two main things. And it turns out that you can predict these trust relationships just by the pattern of interaction with people.
So for instance, when we tried to get everybody to be a little more active here in the winter, if we gave small incentives to the people that interacted with you most, that was the most powerful way to change behavior. Much more powerful than giving you the money directly.
DE: One of your stunning conclusions is that you were able to predict how successful a city is by looking at its network of relationships. And what we found is the richer the set of interactions you have, the more diverse it is, the more likely you are to have a good income, to have a good outcome health-wise also. And so cities that have very rich social ties, very dense social ties, are the cities that have the greatest wealth.
DE: There were so many obvious implications of this work on cities. One is, that you need good infrastructure in a city because you need people to be able to physically get from one part of the city to another. And you need to be able to connect very diverse communities in order to get this sort of effect. And what that means is we can begin engineering our infrastructure, our transportation projects, our various incentives and our laws to promote more of that sort of interaction.
DE: And you want rich and poor living together, you want different ethnic communities not to be totally segregated, you want old and young to mix, you want all those different groups within society to interact with each other.
So for instance, we did a study in London where we showed that sort of lack of interaction and particularly changes in that sort of interaction were highly correlated with spikes in crime. More importantly, I think, what you see is when communities are segregated, they develop very different cultures. And as a consequence, the culture or the topics, the attitudes among poor communities have really radically diverged from the sorts of things that wealthier communities talk about.
DE: That sort of a large macro level. What about something like the office and how you organize office space? Should we will be based in open plan office we will keep our office doors open so that we can talk to each other meet each other in the corridor? AP: Well we go in and we measure interactions in large corporations.
We use little electronic badges and other sorts of devices to get a snapshot of who talks to who. More interesting, we look at things like research units or pharma companies, companies where innovation and creativity is actually a product that is most important to them, and we find that the thing that best predicts that is conversations across different work groups. The more you violate the org chart, the more innovative and creative your organization is likely to be.
And sometimes you can achieve this in really interesting ways.