Signal to Noise Ratio in Social Networking

Briefer posts. This WordPress blog is social technology, but like so many of our current tools is not very effective and probably harmful. I have spent much of the day adding and configuring plugins to make it more effective, but it still does not cut like a knife, it will still fail to reach the people it should reach. And it is at least potentially dangerous.

One of the good things about ineffective social technology is that it is not so likely to spread infection – my familiar medical analogy. The more people touched by a blog, the more people likely to be influenced by its content – something always true since the invention of writing, but especially dangerous in this world where propagation of ideas is so easy and it is so easy to make social contacts, Facebook friends, for example, which are actually inappropriate.

It is too easy to add a friend on Facebook and other low-tech social utilities. Networking is not better if you have more friends, it is better if you have the optimum number of friends, determined by bandwidth. So-called “friends” who add irrelevant content to your news flow decrease the signal to noise ratio.

The social technology of networking should tie you into the network with an appropriate number of links, preferably sharing something worthwhile but not too much.
To understand this, think of your inputs as being uncorrelated, or orthogonal. Then you receive the maximum amount of information from the fewest links. This is not something likely to be achieved in real life, but it is a useful way of looking at it.

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