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« Modeling Behavior & Strategic Patience | Main | You Are Not All That & Why You Shouldn't Ever Believe It »

October 24, 2011


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This is an interesting position - but I think that Dunbar does not apply to the enterprise. He talks not only about relationships, but those that are relevant to a person in different aspects of their life, not for the specific purpose of conducting business.

I think that this "business", the exchange of commercial value in both directions, is what makes Dunbar not relevant for business. If there is an intrinsic financial value attached, any weak relationship becomes a strong one.

It is, as you say - or at least imply, the hybrid world where we mingle personal and business (very commonly represented in online communities) where we see this quandaries appear.

Would love to hear from someone who has thought through this to resolution, I am just getting started and have long-way to go.

Mike Gotta

Rachel - how do you define "strong tie", "weak tie", and "latent tie". My understanding is that latent ties are ties that are technically possible but not activated (Ellison, Pearson). I imagine that a "latent strong tie" is actually a weak tie. Perhaps not realized as such in the mind of one of the parties but how can a strong tie be latent?

I'm also not sure that communities are the only epicenter between strong and weak ties. One, yes. The only, perhaps not.

Ties within a community are likely to be comprised of strong and weak ties but they are related to the community. The ego network of an individual would have many weak ties spanning beyond the community - the brokerage value could very well be greater outside the network context of a given community.



Dunbar's Number is often misunderstood. What Dunbar was talking about was the notion of a "stable social network." Also, he speaks of the idea of how we each understand our relationships with one another. For instance, if we know a third person, and each know the other's relationship to that third person. Now add another 147 people. It's not hard to imagine that the human mind has a limit to how well we can all understand each other's relationships to one another... at least in a *stable* network.

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