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Spring has come to Toronto, and with it a nice Complexity Digest.
selections curated by me

Happy Norwuz, Pesach, and Easter!

PS: Am I wrong, but has the You Can Get Rich scams proliferated again.
Every day, I am told I have won at least $30M.

Spring has sprung!

   Barry Wellman

    A vision is just a vision if it's only in your head
    Step by step, link by link, putting it together
    The earth to be spannd, connected by network -- Walt Whitman
        It's Always Something -- Roseanne Roseannadanna
   NetLab Network                 FRSC                      INSNA Founder
   Distinguished Visiting Scholar   Social Media Lab   Ryerson University
   Distinguished Senior Advisor     	     University Learning Academy
   NETWORKED: The New Social Operating System  Lee Rainie & Barry Wellman  

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Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2018 12:01:54 +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

Love is All You Need: Clauset˙˙s fruitless search for scale-free networks

In the past weeks, I have received several requests to address the merits 
of the Anna D. Broido and Aaron Clauset (BC) preprint [1] and their 
fruitless search for scale-free networks in nature. The preprint˙˙s 
central claim is deceptively simple: It starts from the textbook 
definition of a scale-free network as a network with a power law in the 
degree distribution [2]. It then proceeds to fit a power law to 927 
networks, finding that only 4% are scale-free. The author's conclusion 
that ˙˙scale-free networks are rare,˙˙ is turned into the title of the 
preprint, helping it to get maximal attention. It worked˙˙Quanta magazine 
accepted its conclusions without reservations. AfterThe Atlantic carried 
the article, the un-refereed preprint received a degree of media exposure 
that the original discovery of scale-free networks never enjoyed.

While I saw the conceptual problems with the manuscript, I was convinced 
that the paper must be technically proficient. Yet, once I did dig into 
it, it was a real ride. If you have the patience to get to the end of this 
commentary, you will see where it fails at the conceptual level. But, we 
will learn that it also fails, repeatedly, at the technical level.

Love is All You Need
Clauset's fruitless search for scale-free networks

Albert-László Barabási

Source: (

Bots sustain and inflate striking opposition in online social systems

    Societies are complex systems which tend to polarize into sub-groups of 
individuals with dramatically opposite perspectives. This phenomenon is 
reflected -- and often amplified -- in online social networks where, 
however, humans are no more the only players, and co-exist alongside with 
social bots, i.e. software-controlled accounts. Analyzing large-scale 
social data collected during the Catalan referendum for independence on 
October 1 2017, consisting of nearly 4 millions Twitter posts generated by 
almost 1 million users, we identify the two polarized groups of 
Independentists and Constitutionalists and quantify the structural and 
emotional roles played by social bots. We show that bots act from 
peripheral areas of the social system to target influential humans of both 
groups, mostly bombarding Independentists with negative and violent 
contents, sustaining and inflating instability in this online society. 
These results quantify the potential dangerous influence of political bots 
during voting processes.

Bots sustain and inflate striking opposition in online social systems
Massimo Stella, Emilio Ferrara, Manlio De Domenico

Source: (

10th congress of the European Union for Systemics (UES2018)

The objective of the 10th congress of the European Union for Systemics (EUS) is to develop a systemic representation of the processes inherent to crises during interdisciplinary meetings, combined with a trans-disciplinary vision. This systemic representation will provide theoretic, methodological and practical tools applicable to specific cases of systems in crisis. All these resources will help the agent taking relevant actions for the benefit of a society willing to reach a high level of sustainability for future generations.

From optimization to change strategy?
10th congress of the European Union for Systemics (UES2018)
15-16-17/10/2018, Brussels, Belgium

Source: (

Conflict and Convention in Dynamic Networks

An important way to resolve games of conflict (snowdrift, hawk˙˙dove, chicken) involves adopting a convention: a correlated equilibrium that avoids any conflict between aggressive strategies. Dynamic networks allow individuals to resolve conflict via their network connections rather than changing their strategy. Exploring how behavioral strategies coevolve with social networks reveals new dynamics that can help explain the origins and robustness of conventions. Here, we model the emergence of conventions as correlated equilibria in dynamic networks. Our results show that networks have the tendency to break the symmetry between the two conventional solutions in a strongly biased way. Rather than the correlated equilibrium associated with ownership norms (play aggressive at home, not away), we usually see the opposite host˙˙guest norm (play aggressive away, not at home) evolve on dynamic networks, a phenomenon common to human interaction. We also show that learning to avoid
conflict can produce realistic network structures in a way different than preferential attachment models.

Paper on journal website:

Interactive visualization: here (

Seven implications of complexity for organisations

My last post was about Paul Cilliers˙˙s 7 characteristics of complex systems.  In this post I want to explore 7 of the implications of complexity ( that he thought was important for those working in and on organisations (...)

Source: (

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