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well, there are still flaws...found this fascinating bit in the new 
scientist feedback column...go to: (to 
view the google sets page referred to below), for a HUGE laugh and help understanding, start the following 
list (enter these exact terms):

1. mow lawn
2. do laundry
3. buy groceries

then select a 'set' - and for those of you who don't bother to do 
this for the entertainment factor alone, i'll tell you what it adds: 
"mail anthrax"

...and my own fascinating discovery: enter 3 terms: sleep, drink, eat 
....and you'd expect other living items, right? what comes next on 
the list is: reproduce, Kunming Restaurants (yes, an ad for a 
restaurant...hmmm, so sets to improve ad network reliability??)

At 08:50 AM 10/1/2006, Scott, John wrote:
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>Barry Wellman recently discovered a possible network algorithm in
>Google. Under 'More' on the Google search page you can find 'Google
>Labs', and under that is 'Google Sets'. Google sets takes the first two
>items in a series and grows it into a network of connections. It does
>this through Google searches on the items.
>For example, Barry input 'Barry Wellman' and 'Beverley Wellman'. Google
>responded with the following network:
>Barry Wellman
>Ronald S Burt
>Alain Degenne
>John Scott
>Nan Lin
>Those of us in Barry's Google set had a brief discussion about what the
>algorithm might be and whether there were any social network analysis
>applications of the search tool. Our best guess was that the algorithm
>was a search on the starter items that looked at a frequency count of
>words appearing in the searches before choosing the next search item.
>Crucial for this particular set seems to be book purchasing choices
>through Amazon. Searches on the names come up with Amazon and similar
>pages that have lots of built in cross-references such as pages recently
>consulted, people who bought X also bought Y, if you liked A, then you
>will like B, and so on.
>It looks as if you need to have the two starter names connected in some
>way that Google will find easily in order to generate a meaningful set.
>Inputting two loosely connected names seems to produce a large and
>apparently meaningless set. It would be interesting to know the actual
>search algorithm to see if it is coming up with n-cliques, clusters, or
>whatever,. It might then be a method for generating some sociometric
>data. Are there any suggestions out there about what the algorithm is
>and how it might be used?
>To get you thinking, here are a couple of other Google-generated
>Inputting the names of the editors of the ASR and the AJS (Jerry Jacobs
>and Andrew Abbott) generated this list:
>Jerry Jacobs
>Andrew Abbott
>Wayne C Booth
>Charles Tilly
>Erving Goffman
>Robert R Alford
>Robert K Yin
>What are the links there? And are they sociometrically relevant?
>Starting the list with INSNA and the ASA generated a list of drug and
>airline names, suggesting that some search items become crucial pivots -
>because of their frequency score - in determining the direction of the
>network: ASA shifts the network in the direction of drugs, while SAS
>shifts it in the direction of airlines. (ASA is, apparently, a generic
>brand name for aspirin in some countries). Here is the full set:
>acetylsalicylic acid
>salicylsalicylic acid
>American Eagle
>Northwest Airlink
>I'd be interested to know what people think is going on in these
>networks and what uses (if any) they think Google Sets might have in
>social network analysis.
>John Scott
>Professor John Scott
>Department of Sociology,
>University of Essex,
>Colchester CO4 3SQ
>United Kingdom
>Web site:
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David Carpe
Principal and Founder, Clew, LLC (
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Skype: dcarpe

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