Bridging the gaps

ETHAN ZUCKERMAN: I spent 20 minutes this morning researching Kenyan wedding rituals.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: But you’re weird!

Mike sent me this interview from On the Media with with Ethan Zuckerman, founder of Global Voices, and Clive Thompson, technology writer for the New York Times Magazine and Wired. They were discussing homophily: the tendency for individuals to seek out others who share their preferences, ideas, age, gender, class, organizational role, etc. and whether the internet was increasing it or helping build bridges of understanding. They also discuss people who are getting beyond what’s known as the Dunbar number and having deep (or not totally shallow) connections with well more than the 150 or so people we’re thought to be able to “know” through social media. Clive relates that as a result of his network, he’s shocked at how much more he knows about things.

For example, I mean, some people’s homophily problem might mean they don’t know anything about international relations. My homophily problem is I don’t know anything about pop culture. I don’t watch any TV. I don’t watch any movies. I don’t listen to much music. And this becomes a real social deficit. I’ll go a party and people like will mention a major A-list star and I have no idea who the hell they’re talking about.

And so, what happens is that in the periphery of my large number of weak links, something will sort of begin to move. Like I’ll see a bunch of people say, wow, Christian Bale is a total badass, and someone else will go, go Christian Bale, go. And I’ll be like I sense a disturbance in the Force.

Mike thought I’d like it, and I did. It’s 20 minutes of very interesting discussion – have a listen if you can.

The photo is Bridging the East River by Randy Wick and you should definitely check it out bigger or in his Most Interesting slideshow.

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