Thursday, November 05, 2009

Finding a Lost Camera using the Small World Phenomenon

I wasn't following this story about the Facebook-mediated search for somebody's lost camera, but this is really cool for those of us who study network science. It's the small-world effect at work, with Facebook lending a helping hand. In fact, it's an absolutely beautiful example of cascading dynamics on small-world networks, and it might even be worth a mention in a paper on which I'm currently working on cascading dynamics on such networks (where my Facebook data is one of the many data sets we're employing).

It's also quite a nice story, as it's excellent that somebody would start such an effort for a total stranger. I hope that I'm eventually that nice a person. I'm rather good (I think) about caring about friends, but I do much less well about caring about people more generally.

(Tip of the cap to Martin Gould.)

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