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 From the Internet to bird song, in this week's crop:

Thinking In Network Terms, Albert-László Barabási

One question that fascinated me in the last two years is, can we ever 
use data to control systems? Could we go as far as, not only describe 
and quantify and mathematically formulate and perhaps predict the 
behavior of a system, but could you use this knowledge to be able to 
control a complex system, to control a social system, to control an 
economic system?

How the Internet will (one day) transform government
Clay Shirky

The open-source world has learned to deal with a flood of new, 
oftentimes divergent, ideas using hosting services like GitHub -- so why 
can’t governments? In this rousing TED talk Clay Shirky shows how 
democracies can take a lesson from the Internet, to be not just 
transparent but also to draw on the knowledge of all their citizens.
Clay Shirky argues that the history of the modern world could be 
rendered as the history of ways of arguing, where changes in media 
change what sort of arguments are possible -- with deep social and 
political implications.

Social Dynamics of Science
Xiaoling Sun, Jasleen Kaur, Staša Milojević, Alessandro Flammini, 
Filippo Menczer

The birth and decline of disciplines are critical to science and 
society. However, no quantitative model to date allows us to validate 
competing theories of whether the emergence of scientific disciplines 
drives or follows the formation of social communities of scholars. Here 
we propose an agent-based model based on a social dynamics of science, 
in which the evolution of disciplines is guided mainly by the social 
interactions among scientists. We find that such a social theory can 
account for a number of stylized facts about the relationships between 
disciplines, authors, and publications. These results provide strong 
quantitative support for the key role of social interactions in shaping 
the dynamics of science. A "science of science" must gauge the role of 
exogenous events, such as scientific discoveries and technological 
advances, against this purely social baseline.

Structural Design Principles of Complex Bird Songs: A Network-Based Approach
Sasahara K, Cody ML, Cohen D, Taylor CE (2012) PLoS ONE 7(9): e44436.

Bird songs are acoustic communication signals primarily used in 
male-male aggression and in male-female attraction. These are often 
monotonous patterns composed of a few phrases, yet some birds have 
extremely complex songs with a large phrase repertoire, organized in 
non-random fashion with discernible patterns. Since structure is 
typically associated with function, the structures of complex bird songs 
provide important clues to the evolution of animal communication 
systems. Here we propose an efficient network-based approach to explore 
structural design principles of complex bird songs, in which the song 
networks–transition relationships among different phrases and the 
related structural measures–are employed.

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