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After showing my graduate students how neat network analysis is - and
admitting that the idea to do this analysis is indeed bright - I, like
Steve Corman, feel that it is important to keep in mind the way data are
generated.  While network models try to show that people are not
independent (and in that sense, there is a family resemblance to HLM
models), in the case that Valdis beautifully shows there IS the problem
of artificial generation of "buddies", and therefore the mechanical
generation of data-dependence.  In essence, buyers' de-facto tastes were
generated by the computerized persuasion system, and we cannot assume
that these tastes are independent of the machine-generated-buddy-list.
Steve is accurate in suggesting that Amazon at least partly manufactures
these data, capitalizing on the first purchasers' tastes - so we might
be seeing the logic of capitalistic amplifying machineries more than
individuals' independent tastes or political views.  This again tells us
the 'be-cautious' tale that measurement and theory are linked in
important ways, and that a theory about social behavior should "talk"
with the appropriate theory of data generation.



Despite this minor critic of a beautifully undertaken project of a
bright idea - Valdis's project can teach the 'manufacturers of consent'
how to tinker with their 'buddying machine' so as to increase sales.
After all, network analysis can become a powerful strategic tool in a
powerful mode of production.



Either way - this neat study does tell a story of an American Soul.



Bravo for the ingenuity, Valdis!



Gad Yair

Department of Sociology & Anthropology

School of Education

Rothberg School of Foreign Students

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Jerusalem 91905

ISRAEL



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-----Original Message-----
From: Social Networks Discussion Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
Behalf Of Steven Corman
Sent: Wednesday, March 05, 2003 4:34 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: A window in the American souls -- politics and book
co-purcha sing patterns



Wow, that's pretty interesting.  Validis's writeup explains this
structure as a reflection of political tendencies in the readers.
However, I can think of at least one other generative mechanism.  If
Amazon's "buddy book" marketing is effective (and I'm pretty sure it is,
because it regularly "gets" me), then the system tends to reproduce its
own links.  If there was any polarization in preferences when the system
was launched, then new buyers would have been steered toward these same
choices (and given limited budgets, therefore away from others).  You
could spin this out into friendship networks and back too: Discussing
books with like-minded friends leads to recommendations for other books
from a similar political perspective, which are then purchased and
contribute to Amazon's data.  Amazon's buddy book system may actually
cause political polarization, and would appear to at least represent a
source of intertia in that phenomenon.

______________________________________
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



-----Original Message-----
From: Steve Borgatti [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Tuesday, March 04, 2003 12:53 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: A window in the American souls -- politics and book
co-purchasing patterns



This page by Valdis has been making the rounds. It's pretty interesting
...

steve.

>
>  http://www.orgnet.com/leftright.html
>  <<Political Patterns on the WWW.url>>
>
>
>