Stephen Baker

The Boost
Home - Viewing one post

How friends' friends can affect moods

January 3, 2009Tribes

One of my Twitter buddies sent me the link to this New Scientist story on how things like happiness work their way through social networks. It's not just your friend's happiness that influences you, but also your friends' friends. So if you're unhappy, or thinking about taking up smoking, or even concerned that your child might be diagnosed with autism, look around and see what your friends' friends are up to.

Researchers are going to benefit from lots of new data about our social connections in the next decade or so. Facebook and MySpace are gold mines, of course. But there are also companies such as Sense Networks that are starting to track our physical movements, and to sort us into new behavioral tribes.


Not really a social network or a web. It's just a leaf I found last summer. But you get the idea...

Soon, researchers like those mentioned in the article will be able to study the contagion patterns of obesity, happiness, suicide, political philosophy. And of course the government will be especially keen to understand the migration across social networks of terrorist sympathies.

When I was researching The Numerati, I talked to scientists at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., who are attempting to model the diffusion of certain ideas in places like Iraq. (Or, more specifically, in Iraq.) Let's say the United States does something good in a town, like building a medical clinic. How does positive news spread to other towns? When I was there, the studies were based on simulations using agent-based modeling. In the future, they'll be able to replace many of these simulations with reality: our behavior.

add comment share:






©2017 Stephen Baker Media, All rights reserved.     Site by Infinet Design







Kirkus Reviews - https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/stephen-baker/the-boost/

LibraryJournal - Library Journal

Booklist Reviews - David Pitt

Locus - Paul di Filippo

read more reviews



Prequel to The Boost: Dark Site
- December 3, 2014


The Boost: an excerpt
- April 15, 2014


My horrible Superbowl weekend, in perspective
- February 3, 2014


My coming novel: Boosting human cognition
- May 30, 2013


Why Nate Silver is never wrong
- November 8, 2012


The psychology behind bankers' hatred for Obama
- September 10, 2012


"Corporations are People": an op-ed
- August 16, 2011


Wall Street Journal excerpt: Final Jeopardy
- February 4, 2011


Why IBM's Watson is Smarter than Google
- January 9, 2011


Rethinking books
- October 3, 2010


The coming privacy boom
- August 17, 2010


The appeal of virtual
- May 18, 2010