The Ties That Bind
Strong, Weak, and Everything in Between
Issue No. 11
You are a social creature and we have thrived as a species because of the collaboration and cooperation within our social groups. Various anthropologists and technologists have examined how these social ties influence our decisions and lives.
The basic frame in this discuss is the continuum of relationships we hold with one end being Strong Ties and the other end Weak Ties. The former are those deep relationships we have because of high frequency and/or intensity of interaction. The latter are those we have with those people we see with low frequency and/or intensity. The former might be your spouse, parent, or child, while the latter might be your favorite high school teacher, a neighorhood barista, or Jan in another branch office.
An oft-cited study of social networks, The Strength of Weak Ties, concluded that Weak Ties actually offer great advantages to people. The rationale was that those closest to you would be more likely to share the same main relationship nodes and not have any real novel information to you. As the thinking goes, you should spend more time cultivating Weak Ties if you want to get ahead in this dynamic world.
Thus was born one of the main rationales for social networking technology like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. You can be certain that you will hear that study referenced by someone in the coming year as gospel, if you haven’t already heard it many times before.
Solid insight, right? Not so fast, my friend! (continued)