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