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Showing posts from June, 2011

Bridging the Gap: Authority, 150 connections, and the Power Law

---150 Connections: The difference between a Community and an Audience---

I found myself in a conversation with friend and sometimes mentor, Nathan Hughes (@ndh313), about the upper bound of one's social connections. Back in the 90's Robin Dunbar proposed an upper limit of around 150 real social connections (knowing who a person is and what their relationship is to you). Scientists have recently used Twitter as a laboratory to confirm that this number holds true, even with all the recent advances in social networking technology. This number has also been confirmed by actual practice throughout the range of human experiences, from hunter-gatherer societies to corporate organizations, to the U.S. military.

In our new social media landscape, this limit seems to manifest itself in two interesting effects:

Most of you have probably already observed the first effect, and it is unlikely to surprise you: those of us who follow hundreds or thousands on Twitter or Facebook will ignore …