Today I was assigned to read Chapter 9 from Clay Shirkey's book called Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations. This reading contains informative explanations behind the reasoning for "Small world incidents." As described by Shirkey, a "Small world incident" takes place when you come into contact with an individual who you are connected to through another individual. Shirkey also helps describe this occurrence through the use of social networking sites.
Shirkey gives a very good example regarding this. He uses an airplane example, where you and your right seat passenger know someone in common. Shirky states that these chances are actually quite good because of a factor known as "Homophily." This factor draws two people out of a much smaller pool than a larger one for the increased likelihood of knowing the same person. They are drawn from a smaller pool because these two people are sharing the same arrival and departure cities and may both live in the same town or city. Shirkey then gives further explanation with the use of small world social networking services. Dodgeball, a friend of friend social networking site designed for mobile phone users, allows a user to send a mass text message to the people on their friends list. Since this is a friend of friend social networking site, the text is then relayed to your friends' friends. This is very similar to Shirkey's airplane example, but it is occurring through an Internet medium. The people that you and your friends are connected to are drawn from a smaller pool. They are drawn from this smaller pool because they are mobile phone users who are connected through a large friends list.
Dodgeball is very similar to Facebook in my opinion. Facebook has a feature known as "The people you may know tool." This tool displays people’s profiles that you may know due to the large number of your friends that know them. This allows you to become acquainted with your friend's friends. Shirky states that "In small world networks people don’t simply connect at random."(p.222, para.1) This is true because Facebook and Dodgeball have specific tools that allow you to connect. You all are connected through the factor of "Homophily." In Facebook you all are college students within the same age group and in Dodgeball you all have a friends list of mobile phone users.
Dodgeball seems like a very interesting feature, but I feel like it could be quite annoying. The constant receiving of messages from friends' friends could start out interesting but end in disappointment when you get tired of it. On a positive note, it also lets you become acquainted with your friends’ friends. It allows you meet new people and it helps explain the reasoning of coming across a “Small world incident.”
Shirkey, Clay. (2008). Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations (chapter 9). New York: Penguin.