UMBC ebiquity
Stanford Superconducting Supersocializer seeks elementary particles of social interaction

Stanford Superconducting Supersocializer seeks elementary particles of social interaction

Tim Finin, 9:14am 20 July 2008

Last month we blogged about UMBC Sociologist Zeynep Tufekci who views social media from the perspective of social physics.

Sociologist Kieran Healy puts the ideas together with a different result, as his post on discovering the elementary particles of social interaction) shows. (Spotted in a post by Mark Liberman on Language Log)

“I’m looking forward to spending a bit of time at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences this fall. Think of the CASBS as the CERN of social science: even as we speak, hard-working technicians are putting the final touches to the Stanford Superconducting Supersocializer, which will come online once the relevant IRB gods committees have been placated with a sufficient amount of cargo detailed forms. The SSS will propel local college sophomores at tremendous speeds into unfamiliar groups of people in an effort to plumb the structure of the elementary particles of social interaction. Despite the success of the standard model, there is much to be learned.”

“The organization of the Quirks is of course well known, with some of the early triumphs of post-war research focused on the internal dynamics of the quirk-matrix (Up, Downer, Charm, Strange, Top Bloke, Asshole). The complex of interactions centered on W and Z remains wholly mysterious, however. The Liketons, too, pose difficult questions, though the recent discovery of observer-dependent YouTube effects has gone some way toward clarifying their role. Finally, the famous Biggs Hangeron also remains problematic, as it is not only notoriously easy to observe but in fact also impossible to ditch at parties.”


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