Weak ties in your network may be weaker than I previously stated

Earlier I discussed what I thought was established wisdom: people with wide-ranging “weak ties” tap into and benefit more from ideas than those who mostly confer with their relatively few strong ties who think similarly (See my post of Dec. 31, 2010: a network perspective on the strength of weak ties.). Not everyone agrees.

Clive Thompson, writing in Wired, May 2011 at 68, presents a contrary view based on others’ research. How often we talk to people in our network matters more than their being like minded (a phenomenon called homophily). Weak-tie acquaintances you rarely speak to shape your thinking much less than the strong-tie friends you share ideas with all the time. Frequency of contact tips the odds toward them being a more valuable source of news. The article describes them as high-bandwidth ties.

By this logic, in a law department, the person in the office next to you or your lunch buddies influence your thinking and creativity far more than the 350 LinkedIn connections you show. Social scientists will argue this debate for a long time.

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