An Autonomous Agent

exploring the noosphere

Category: networks

Dunbar’s Law and Economic Relationships

On page 306 of Scale, Geoffrey West discusses Dunbar’s Law and its implication for human social networks. To summarize this law: it claims that humans have multiple levels of bonding strength. At the lowest level a human will have around five connections of the strongest type of friendship and intimacy. Typically this would include some members of one’s family or a best friend. At the next level there are around fifteen connections that are not as strong as the first level, but are still firm. This would include close friends you might talk to on a daily or weekly basis. At the next level there are about fifty connections… and so on… The numbers of connections scales by tripling the connections at each higher level. In the book the levels are labeled as: 1) Kin, 2) Super-family 3) Clan, 4) Tribe, and 5) Strangers.

When I first read this in Scale, I was immediately reminded of David Graeber’s anthropological work regarding economic relationships among humans. In his book Debt: The First 5,000 Years, Graeber observes on page 99-100 that baseline communism (sharing) follows a similar structure. Thus, using the terminology from above: At the kin level Graeber notes that there is much sharing between members and the relationship is baseline communism. Thus, you can extend this and map these economic relationships with those of Dunbar’s Law: 1) Kin (~5 people) : Almost all sharing with very little debt or IOU, 2) Super-family (~15 people) : IOU with a good amount of sharing, 3) Clan (~ 50 people) : Mostly IOU and little sharing, and 4) Tribe (~150 people) : Almost entirely IOU with very little sharing. Anything outside the tribe would be exchange via a cash medium except in rare occasions, such as a child falling in front of an on-coming vehicle (a person would naturally share his strength to save the child’s life). Although I may not have followed Graeber’s observations exactly I find this train of thought to be interesting as it requires one to rethink the concept of currency, exchange, and economic relationships. Indeed, Graeber’s book challenges the entire paradigm of the historical development of currency and debt by analyzing the anthropological record.

Bye Facebook… Here Come the Decentralized Social Networks

Wikileaks recently claimed that Facebook censored their post on Hillary Clinton’s email dump. This suggests that users of Facebook are in no way guaranteed the right to post whatever they want. At the end of the day, it is Facebook Corporation (Quote: FB) which has the final say on what should be publicly allowed on Facebook. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, this is the expected outcome of a free service existing as a centrally managed set of servers owned by special interests and shareholders.

The solution, not without its own disadvantages, would be to create and migrate all users to a decentralized social media network. I think this would be possible with Namecoin in combination with WordPress (think BuddyPress) where all users would have their own local servers or rent machines with services like Heroku, Namecheap, Openshift, Amazon EC2, etc.. The process should be simple:

  1. User rents machine on Heroku, Namecheap, Openshift, etc…
  2. Install WordPress on this machine
  3. Add WordPress social network plugin
  4. Create Namecoin domain
  5. Create user profile
  6. Publish posts, socialize and message friends

Here are some current examples/ideas of people creating and implementing P2P social networks:

Diaspora – Working version of a private decentralized social network

Synereo; visit their blog to keep up with their progress.

The Pandora. P2P Social Network

Vole: Peer-to-peer social web

Masques: an invisible social network

Samsara Social Network

Kálmán Graffi

Student’s brilliant idea: A peer-to-peer social network

PeerSoN: Privacy-Preserving P2P Social Networks

Azimuth Project Blog

Many interesting posts about math, physics, and science! About the Azimuth Project.

The Rarest Things in the Universe (about money and Bitcoin)

Big Think Lectures and Interviews

Steven Pinker talking about how language helps scientists understand cognition.
Steven Pinker: Linguistics as a Window to Understand the Brain

Nicholas Christakis talks about important revolutions in understanding the social sciences.
Nicholas Christakis: The Sociological Science Behind Social Networks and Social Influence

Benoit Mandelbrot interview, talking about fractals.
Big Think Interview with Benoit Mandelbrot

Richard Dawkins interview, talking about evolution and other related topics.
Richard Dawkins – Evolutionary Biologist – Big Think – discussing a multitude of scientific topics

First time I have heard about Stewart Brand; really smart and wise guy.
Big Think Interview With Stewart Brand

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