Social Web sites are transitioning to a replacement for search engines through their ability to identify the information that people pay attention to, which mirrors a basic axiom about information and communication in complex networked systems, writes the New England Complex Systems Institute's Yaneer Bar-Yam.
Unlike Google's model, in which the search engine functions as a window onto the Web as a whole, social media sites take information that one person deems valuable to his or her followers and distributes it to them. Search is important when the information is changing at a gradual pace while the individual's needs are changing quickly. Social links are important when the information is changing swiftly and there are various specific types of information that a person requires for what they are doing.
The right balance changes for different people and the tasks they are carrying out, but Bar-Yam says that balance will be changed over time by the rapid growth of information. The most critical controlling variables are the rate at which information is entering the system versus the ability of an individual to process it, the pertinence of disparate pieces of information from many places in the system for a specific individual, and the rate at which the type of information that an individual needs changes over time.
From New England Complex Systems Institute
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