***** To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org ***** Barry Wellman has been looking for someone to take over the task of forwarding interesting bits from Complexity Digest to SocNet. In a moment of weakness, I volunteered. 

My favorites from the current digest are the first four items

  1. because I am interested in complex systems and always find M.E.H. Newman to be a good read from which I learn a lot.
  2. because I live in one of the world's most successfully planned cities, Yokohama, Japan, where, I suspect, the success of urban planning has been made possible largely by a major earthquake in 1923 and the firebombing in 1945, which wiped the landscape clean and created an open canvas for new generations of planners.
  3. because leadership is a topic in which, as someone researching top advertising creatives in Japan, I am much interested.
  4. because "homophily" is one of those words I only encountered after starting to study network analysis.

01. Complex Systems: A Survey , arXiv

Abstract: A complex system is a system composed of many interacting parts, often
called agents, which displays collective behavior that does not follow trivially
from the behaviors of the individual parts. Examples include condensed matter
systems, ecosystems, stock markets and economies, biological evolution, and
indeed the whole of human society. Substantial progress has been made in the
quantitative understanding of complex systems, particularly since the 1980s,
using a combination of basic theory, much of it derived from physics, and
computer simulation. The subject is a broad one, drawing on techniques and ideas
from a wide range of areas. Here I give a survey of the main themes and methods
of complex systems science and an annotated bibliography of resources, ranging
from classic papers to recent books and reviews.

* [1] Complex Systems: A Survey, M. E. J. Newman, 2011/12/6, arXiv:1112.1440
[Am. J. Phys. 79, 800-810 (2011)]

[1] http://arXiv.org/abs/1112.1440


02. Building a Science of Cities , CASA Working Papers

Excerpt: Our understanding of cities is being transformed by new approaches from
the complexity sciences (Batty, 2005). Here we review progress, sketching the
background beginning with the systems approach which treated systems as being
organised from the top down to that which now dominates where systems are
treated as evolving from the bottom up. The switch in thinking we describe is
best pictured in the transition from thinking of 'cities as machines' to 'cities
as organisms'.

* [2] Building a Science of Cities, Michael Batty, 2011/11, CASA Working Paper

[2] http://www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/casa/publications/working-paper-170


03. What Are Leaders Really For? , HBR Blog Network

Excerpt: By refusing to name a leader, Occupy Wall Street presents a challenge
to this view. With no one figure to credit or blame, with no face to put on a
sprawling inchoate movement, and with no hierarchy of power, we simply don't
know how to process what "it" is, and therefore how to think about it. And
because this absence of a familiar personality-centric narrative makes us
uncomfortable, we are tempted to reject the whole thing as somehow not real. Or
instead, we insist that in order to be taken seriously, the movement must first
change to reflect what we expect from serious organizations — namely a
charismatic leader to whom we can attribute everything.

* [3] What Are Leaders Really For?, Duncan Watts, 2011/11/21, HBR Blog Network



04. An Experimental Study of Homophily in the Adoption of Health Behavior ,

Abstract: How does the composition of a population affect the adoption of health
behaviors and innovations? Homophily—similarity of social contacts—can
increase dyadic-level influence, but it can also force less healthy individuals
to interact primarily with one another, thereby excluding them from interactions
with healthier, more influential, early adopters. As a result, an important
network-level effect of homophily is that the people who are most in need of a
health innovation may be among the least likely to adopt it. Despite the
importance of this thesis, confounding factors in observational data have made
it difficult to test empirically. We report results from a controlled
experimental study on the spread of a health innovation through fixed social
networks in which the level of homophily was independently varied. We found that
homophily significantly increased overall adoption of a new health behavior,
especially among those most in need of it.

* [4] An Experimental Study of Homophily in the Adoption of Health Behavior,
Damon Centola, 2011/12/2, DOI: 10.1126/science.1207055, Science Vol. 334 no.
6060 pp. 1269-1272

[4] http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1207055

As a politically active citizen of the USA, I also recommend

19.02. The Number That Killed Us: A Story of Modern Banking, Flawed Mathematics,
and a Big Financial Crisis , Wiley

Summary:        The devastating financial crisis that began in the summer of
2007 and led to staggering losses for the banking industry, a global economic
recession, and an implosion in government finances was caused by two main
factors: toxic assets and leverage. But why did banks and other financial
institutions take on this "toxic leverage" in the first place? Because an
immensely powerful, but little talked about, mathematical model told them to.
Known as Value at Risk (VaR), this model inaccurately projected no risk for
these clearly worthless assets, insisting that they could be accumulated
worry-free. (...)

* [30] The Number That Killed Us: A Story of Modern Banking, Flawed Mathematics,
and a Big Financial Crisis, Pablo Triana, 2011/12/06, Wiley
* Contributed by [31] Anton Joha

[31] mailto:[log in to unmask]

As you can see, my selections reflect a highly personal take on what is interesting. Should you have a moment to look at the full list  and point out to me items that you would have included, this feedback will be taken into account in future selections.


John McCreery
The Word Works, Ltd., Yokohama, JAPAN
Tel. +81-45-314-9324
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