In this post I was going to take a deeper look at the Main Discussion Group network, with a particular emphasis on the internal Escort and Expediter Groups. However I’ve decided to do a response comparison of the Main Discussion Group and SA-GE because its quite interesting. However, first I want to show a time comparison.
The graphs below provide time comparisons between the SA-GE and Main Discussion Group. Note the monthly posting pattern is quite different. Perhaps it reflects a northern hemisphere membership bias in the SA-GE with activity being very low in the summer? The daily posting pattern is similar to the Main Group, but with a more pronounced bias for Wednesdays. I have no explanation or hypothesis for this bias.
Now compare the two pie graphs below. Here we are looking at reciprocity: that is, the link is reciprocal with an arrowhead at both ends. It is not measuring the number of reciprocated posts. What I find fascinating is the reciprocity pattern is almost exactly the opposite. In the case of the Main Discussion Group, reciprocal posts appear low; given this is a “knowledge exchange” network. It is perhaps indicative of a “knowledge seeking” organisation rather than a “knowledge sharing” organisation. On the other hand reciprocity is strong within the SA-GE and is indicative, at least on the surface, of a “knowledge sharing” group.
I’m loath to offer an explanation without doing a more detailed analysis, and getting feedback from both communities. My hypothesis at the moment is the difference is reflective of relative size, and the familiarity that comes with a smaller group. I spoke about these factors two posts ago . What is interesting is there are 29 active posters in the SA-GE in any given year. This is very close to Dunbar’s Close Group number, which is 33.
Regardless of whether or not we have a Dunbar Number effect, I do think the network Laws of Oligarchy and Propinquity are at play. The Law of Oligarchy says that “birds of a feather flock together”, with those occupying a particular function or social strata becoming isolated over time. The Law of Propinquity says that “those close by form a tie”, with the probability of two people communicating being inversely proportional by a factor of two to the distance between them.
In my next post I will take a deeper look at the Main Discussion Group network, with a particular emphasis on the Escort and Expediter Groups. In the meantime I look forward to your comments.