Politics: Small-world Phenomena and the Dean Campaign II. The difficulty in building a political network like Dean is that it is extremely difficult to manufacture small-world dynamics. The weak links derived from weblogs and other forms of social technology are made via intentional actions by the network's participants. They can't be forced or planned. They also are unlikely to form without help. These intentional cross connections serve to radically reduce the average connection length of the network (the distance between any two nodes on the network). Hence the perception that the community is a small world, even if it is composed of hundreds of thousands of participants. Operationally, short connection lengths translate into a community that acts with a speed and decisiveness not seen in authoritarian or random networks.
The knee-jerk reaction among political managers looking at the Dean network would be to set up a candidate weblog, set up some meetup.org gatherings, and build some software. However, that is far from what is needed to set the process that would lead to small-world phenomena in motion. [John Robb's Weblog]