A book is never done

Writing a book about social interaction is a strange experience because the minute the book hits the printing press, you start to uncover more and more new material that could have been included and you start to think about new things. I’m very lucky to be working in product development at Facebook, and am surrounded by some of the best minds in marketing and advertising. My daily conversations at work make me think about new areas, new combinations of ideas, new frameworks, and new possibilities for the future. For example, since the book was finished, I have started to read and think about the history of media technology, and how that might inform how people approach new media technologies today and in the future. I’ve also started to think a bit more about the relationship between homophily and influence. (This is largely because of some great conversations with my colleague Eytan Bakshy. Eytan is one of the brightest minds in this space and if you like this stuff, you should follow his work – he has some new papers coming out soon).

On my personal Twitter account, I’ve generally tried to keep the signal to noise ratio high (I post about my personal life on my Facebook account). I only tweet once every day or two despite reading tons of articles every day. This reading helps me form my thoughts, and as one of the most common pieces of feedback I’ve received about the book is that the references are really helpful, it made sense to create a new Twitter account for the book, where I will tweet the stuff I’m reading (with some quality control :). Think of it as a living extended bibliography for the book.

So, you can follow the book here @GroupedTheBook. I’ve dropped in a few articles I’ve recently to give you an idea of what I’ll post there. I’d love to hear thoughts if you read the articles I link to, and I hope to find new articles through the books’ followers. I hope you find the ongoing conversation helpful!


  1. Thanks for a nice talk at Salesforce in San Francisco on Jan 17, 2012 and also to salesforce.com for making it a public event so I was able to attend it.

    I’ve been mulling over the talk and the discussion; and wonder if you might share your thoughts on the distinction between how people discover novel information (eg: how people learn about details in the Costa Concordia tragedy) versus how their opinions are formed (eg: the opinions of people in the hometown of the captain versus most everyone else.)

    Discussions in the talk around twitter-style broadcast-ish ties and how they help filter Shift #1 (exponential growth of information) made me realize that I’ve been conflating influence with how novel information spreads, and perhaps more besides me might be in the same mindset.

    I think Grouped makes a thoughtful case that a meaningful *opinion* about thing X (eg: resulting in “I _buy_ X”) is strongly influenced by close ties; and hence deserves far more attention than it does.

    The Tipping Point hypothesis (in hindsight at least to me) seems primarily about how *novel information* spreads. Ie: how did I _know_ about thing X, Y and Z, rather than what I _think_ about them.

    There must be some overlap, or at the least much marketing internalizes the idea that making thing X rise in a person’s information stream makes them more likely to think favourably of X when they have to choose.

    Gladwell’s ideas seem to map to how information diffuses these days (eg: high follower-count-individuals on Twitter play the same role as “Connectors”). So anyone focused on information diffusion rather than influence becomes interested in such one-way, broadcast-style “curator” social ties.

    It appears to me that Eytan Bakshy’s recent paper on the Role of Social Networks in Information Diffusion indicates a similar distinction between close ties for influence, and weak ties to propagate novel information. (It also strikes me that the study considers weak ties in Facebook which doesn’t have the same characteristics as Twitter, and looks at link sharing which is tricky to map with opinion — so I’m sure there will be more interesting insights yet to come.)

    At any rate, it’s possible to see Grouped as expressing an anti-Tipping Point sentiment, but it looks to me it’s actually arguing for putting influence rather than information propagation in front of the cart. Those two things likely have different propagation mechanisms, and so need different approaches.

  2. I completely agree with your post ” A book is never done”. What’s new today is old tomorrow.

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