Connected Chapter 6

Chapter 6
Politically Connected
Your Vote Doesn’t Count
If you applied “rationality” to voting,
you probably wouldn’t vote.
The “costs” of voting
• researching candidates
• getting to the polls
• standing in line
• voting rather than having time off
are far greater than the payoffs
• only one vote amongst millions!
• your vote would only make a
difference if the results were tied
• probability < 1 in 10 million!
Photo by aka_lusi, Flickr
Your Vote Doesn’t Count
Why does it matter if we vote?
Because we do not vote alone!
People do not decide whether
or not to vote in isolation.
We vote because our friends
Photo by gregg.carlstrom, Flickr
Cascade Effect
On average, 1 decision to vote will motivate 3 others to also
go to the polls.
Usually, those you influence to vote in your social network
have political ideas similar to yours.
So your decision to
vote is even more
powerful than your
vote itself!
Photo by programwitch, Flickr
Social Networks can be dangerous as well!
Politicians need to be careful about who they include in their
social network because it affects the public’s opinion of them.
Sometimes it is
hard to know who
associate with.
Following the paper
trail can be helpful.
Photo by wallyg and mharrsch, Flickr
The paper trail of “sponsors”
and “co-sponsors” on bills can
be used to study the ties
between legislators.
These ties can be used to
map the social network.
The structure of the resulting
map is very important!
Photo by jcolman, Flickr
Types of Modules
A module (“community”) is a groups of people with many ties to each
other and few ties to other groups. The more modular a network is, the
more polarized it is.
Complete Polarization
Medium Polarization
High Polarization
Low Polarization
Structure Matters!
Weak Ties = More potential connections!
They may not be strong, but they open more doors.
People with many
connections (both
strong and weak) are
more likely to be at
the center of a social
Photo by Rionda, Flickr
Activism Goes Online
Social networking sites like YouTube and Facebook have gone
Campaigners, activists, and bloggers use sites like these to
reach millions of internet users because they are far cheaper
than advertising through the media.
Photos by and
Activism Goes Online
You might think increased discussion would bring us politically
closer but this map of political blogs in America shows otherwise.
Online social networks appear to be strongly homophilous and
The Effects of Online Social Networks
This figure of the Iranian political blogosphere shows that the
government allows a wide range of political discourse -- even
criticisms of the government!
If more freedom were given to the movements of online social
networks, could it affect the entire political system in the country?

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