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September 26, 2005



One of the interesting variation, possibly limitation, of the Reed/metcalfe network growth laws may be found in recent studies of so-called "scale free networks" (see e.g. Scientific American introductory article from May 2003 at http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=000312F5-B86B-1E90-8EA5809EC5880000), by Eric Bonabeau and Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, two distinguished research leaders in this field.

Most of these research papers point to the sobering idea that the overall value of the network might actually be found in the emerging patterns of links (or, alternatively, in the role of certain nodes as "hubs" or "sinks") rather than in the total number of nodes, links or possible paths. I believe that this scale-free analysis could also be conducted on del.icio.us and other social bookmarking sites now that their size may warrant interesting results.

In this line of thought, such patterns can fuel new forms of search engines (as pionneered by IBM with "Trawling The Web For Emerging Cyber-Communities" http://www8.org/w8-papers/4a-search-mining/trawling/trawling.html). Applying this to the collectively built information in social networking sites would yield deeper understanding of hwo and where value is built in such networks/

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