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steve b says:

>Steve gives a path-dependent kind of explanation where any tendency toward
factions at the beginning tends to amplify, but would that imply that
feedback always leads to factions, since every group probably contains such
proto-splits?

This is an interesting question.  I'd say no because the buddy system could
work to bridge the splits.  Instead of giving you a "buddy" recommendation
for a book someone else like you read, it could give you a "stranger"
recommendation for a book with a similar subject tha somebody *unlike* you
read (that would be a challenge for sure because they would need to have
some ongoing analysis like Valdis's and keep track of the cliques).  The
current system isn't providing neutral feedback, they're appealing to our
social identities to persuade us to buy more books.  The "stranger" system
would probably never happen because what would they do if they completely
broke down the buddy structure?  Give random book recommendations?
Polarization leading to a highly structured buddy network is in Amazon's
interests, and their technical system promotes it.

Geez, look at me!  I'm starting to sound like a critical theorist.  I'd
better go read a stats book to get these ideas our of my head before I start
quoting Foucault or something...

Steve (c)

______________________________________
Steven R. (Steve) Corman
Professor, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication
Arizona State University
http://www.public.asu.edu/~corman

Vice-Chair, Organizational Communication Division
International Communication Association