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As always, these are only quickly-selected excerpts from today's full 
Complexity Digest

   Barry Wellman
    A vision is just a vision if it's only in your head
    Step by step, link by link, putting it together
   NetLab Network                   FRSC                    INSNA Founder           twitter: @barrywellman
   NETWORKED:The New Social Operating System   Lee Rainie & Barry Wellman
   MIT Press         Print $18  Kindle $11

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Date: Mon, 18 Jan 2016 12:02:58 +0000
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Subject: [utf-8] Latest Complexity Digest Posts

Learn about the latest and greatest related to complex systems research. More at

The power of crowds

    Human computation, a term introduced by Luis von Ahn (1), refers to distributed systems that combine the strengths of humans and computers to accomplish tasks that neither can do alone (2). The seminal example is reCAPTCHA, a Web widget used by 100 million people a day when they transcribe distorted text into a box to prove they are human. This free cognitive labor provides users with access to Web content and keeps websites safe from spam attacks, while feeding into a massive, crowd-powered transcription engine that has digitized 13 million articles from The New York Times archives (3). But perhaps the best known example of human computation is Wikipedia. Despite initial concerns about accuracy (4), it has become the key resource for all kinds of basic information. Information science has begun to build on these early successes, demonstrating the potential to evolve human computation systems that can model and address wicked problems (those that defy traditional
problem-solving methods) at the intersection of economic, environmental, and sociopolitical systems.

The power of crowds
Pietro Michelucci, Janis L. Dickinson

Science  01 Jan 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6268, pp. 32-33

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Predicting links in ego-networks using temporal information

    Link prediction appears as a central problem of network science, as it calls for unfolding the mechanisms that govern the micro-dynamics of the network. In this work, we are interested in ego-networks, that is the mere information of interactions of a node to its neighbors, in the context of social relationships. As the structural information is very poor, we rely on another source of information to predict links among egos˙˙ neighbors: the timing of interactions. We define several features to capture different kinds of temporal information and apply machine learning methods to combine these various features and improve the quality of the prediction. We demonstrate the efficiency of this temporal approach on a cellphone interaction dataset, pointing out features which prove themselves to perform well in this context, in particular the temporal profile of interactions and elapsed time between contacts.

Predicting links in ego-networks using temporal information
Lionel Tabourier, Anne-Sophie Libert and Renaud Lambiotte

EPJ Data Science 2016, 5:1

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2016 Global Sustainability Summer School | Santa Fe Institute

    The GSSS provides an intensive two-week program on urban sustainability. This school is available for postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, scientists, policy makers, and business professionals. The school is for participants who seek background and hands-on experience to help them prepare to conduct interdisciplinary research in areas related to urban sustainability.

July 25- August 5, 2016 - Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

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How messy problems can inspire creativity

    Challenges and problems can derail your creative process ... or they can make you more creative than ever. In the surprising story behind the best-selling solo piano album of all time, Tim Harford may just convince you of the advantages of having to work with a little mess.

Complexity Digest's insight:

"Just because you don't like it, it does not mean that it is not helpful"

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The physics of life

    From flocking birds to swarming molecules, physicists are seeking to understand 'active matter' ˙˙ and looking for a fundamental theory of the living world.

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The Internet of Things as World-Changing Technology

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A Crude Look at the Whole: The Science of Complex Systems in Business, Life, and Society (by John H. Miller)

    Imagine trying to understand a stained glass window by breaking it into pieces and examining it one shard at a time. While you could probably learn a lot about each piece, you would have no idea about what the entire picture looks like. This is reductionism˙˙the idea that to understand the world we only need to study its pieces˙˙and it is how most social scientists approach their work.

In A Crude Look at the Whole, social scientist and economist John H. Miller shows why we need to start looking at whole pictures. For one thing, whether we are talking about stock markets, computer networks, or biological organisms, individual parts only make sense when we remember that they are part of larger wholes. And perhaps more importantly, those wholes can take on behaviors that are strikingly different from that of their pieces.
Miller, a leading expert in the computational study of complex adaptive systems, reveals astounding global patterns linking the organization of otherwise radically different structures: It might seem crude, but a beehive˙˙s temperature control system can help predict market fluctuations and a mammal˙˙s heartbeat can help us understand the ˙˙heartbeat˙˙ of a city and adapt urban planning accordingly. From enduring racial segregation to sudden stock market disasters, once we start drawing links between complex systems, we can start solving what otherwise might be totally intractable problems.

Thanks to this revolutionary perspective, we can finally transcend the limits of reductionism and discover crucial new ideas. Scientifically founded and beautifully written, A Crude Look at the Whole is a powerful exploration of the challenges that we face as a society. As it reveals, taking the crude look might be the only way to truly see.

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The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution (by David Wootton)

    A companion to such acclaimed works as The Age of Wonder, A Clockwork Universe, and Darwin˙˙s Ghosts˙˙a groundbreaking examination of the greatest event in history, the Scientific Revolution, and how it came to change the way we understand ourselves and our world.

We live in a world transformed by scientific discovery. Yet today, science and its practitioners have come under political attack. In this fascinating history spanning continents and centuries, historian David Wootton offers a lively defense of science, revealing why the Scientific Revolution was truly the greatest event in our history.

The Invention of Science goes back five hundred years in time to chronicle this crucial transformation, exploring the factors that led to its birth and the people who made it happen. Wootton argues that the Scientific Revolution was actually five separate yet concurrent events that developed independently, but came to intersect and create a new worldview. Here are the brilliant iconoclasts˙˙Galileo, Copernicus, Brahe, Newton, and many more curious minds from across Europe˙˙whose studies of the natural world challenged centuries of religious orthodoxy and ingrained superstition.

From gunpowder technology, the discovery of the new world, movable type printing, perspective painting, and the telescope to the practice of conducting experiments, the laws of nature, and the concept of the fact, Wotton shows how these discoveries codified into a social construct and a system of knowledge. Ultimately, he makes clear the link between scientific discovery and the rise of industrialization˙˙and the birth of the modern world we know.

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Knowledge and Interaction: A Synthetic Agenda for the Learning Sciences (by Andrea A. diSessa et al.)

    Decades of research in the cognitive and learning sciences have led to a growing recognition of the incredibly multi-faceted nature of human knowing and learning. Up to now, this multifaceted nature has been visible mostly in distinct and often competing communities of researchers. From a purely scientific perspective, "siloed" science˙˙where different traditions refuse to speak with one another, or merely ignore one another˙˙is unacceptable. This ambitious volume attempts to kick-start a serious, new line of work that merges, or properly articulates, different traditions with their divergent historical, theoretical, and methodological commitments that, nonetheless, both focus on the highly detailed analysis of processes of knowing and learning as they unfold in interactional contexts in real time.

Knowledge and Interaction puts two traditions in dialogue with one another: Knowledge Analysis (KA), which draws on intellectual roots in developmental psychology and cognitive modeling and focuses on the nature and form of individual knowledge systems, and Interaction Analysis (IA), which has been prominent in approaches that seek to understand and explain learning as a sequence of real-time moves by individuals as they interact with interlocutors, learning environments, and the world around them. The volume˙˙s four-part organization opens up space for both substantive contributions on areas of conceptual and empirical work as well as opportunities for reflection, integration, and coordination.

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NetSci 2016 | International School and Conference on Network Science

    The flagship conference of the Network Science Society, NetSci 2016, will be held in Seoul, South Korea this year. For details, please check out our website: (

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Sponsored by the Complex Systems Society.
Founding Editor: Gottfried Mayer.
Editor-in-Chief: Carlos Gershenson.

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