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March 10, 2008 / studyingsociology

The Tyranny of Nodes

All scientists struggle with the challenge of describing the material and non-material worlds in mathemathical terms. The wonder of it is that so much has already been put into equations and that these equations do a reliable job of representing reality. 

Social scientists have longed for a way to produce these wonderful mathematical tools for their own disciplines.  One theory and method that has proved to be a fairly hopeful path is Social Network Theory.  There are problems here as with all theory, and for most of us the math is mindboggling so we rely on the programs that do the work for us (a problem in itself).  Still this is a fascinating subject even if the fine details leave us clueless. 

Once in a while a researcher writes something that is relatively easy to understand about the work they are involved in. This social networking blog is such a case, especially if you read all the way through the discussion so that you can see how Dr. Martin Luther King used the concept of nodes (inherent in social networking theory) without even realizing it in his beautiful “Let Freedom Ring” speech.

Before you go to the blog see if you can find the nodes in this excerpt.  Don’t worry if you can’t.  This is not a test.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that.
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi,
from every mountainside, let freedom ring !

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