I was utterly amazed by the concept of Social Network Analysis, how emotion travels through a network, how the 6 degrees thing works. Did you know someone you have never met can affect your weight? I was so amazed I started a company building a CRM from the ground up using graph theory. We launch in Q1 2015.
Inspired to be: The seven habits of highly effective people. A great book, which many read and sight. Forcing myself to write about my values and behaviours means you have to live up to them :)
I read it once and now I am reading it again with my girlfriend actually doing all the exercises. You can read it in a week but to really take it all in you need to work on it over a lifetime. http://www.wikiwand.com/en/The_Seven_Habits_of_Highly_Effect...
I haven't read that study yet - it's on my list - but I tend to agree that existing social ties are somewhat orthogonal to political views. We are surprised by our friends' views precisely because we don't feel comfortable discussing things. This limits communication and understanding. The two-party winner-take-all system, combined with slow feedback loops (I won't vote for Pelosi because she supported warrantless wiretaps, but she doesn't know that and therefore doesn't care about it) mean that the messaging for campaigns to succeed depends on wedge issues and vilification.
At the same time, our social connections (be they online or off) do inform our positions and views on ranges of acceptable behavior. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window and http://www.amazon.com/Connected-Surprising-Networks-Friends-...
Connectedness in a network increases the transitivity of ideas. Now what we need is a forum/channel/model for expressing our political positions/desires/demands and we should see the political process get less hierarchical, more responsive, and more accountable.
So yes, "please vote for my candidate" via online channels is v0 of the overall goal. We want to flip it, "take my position if you want my vote", but to get there, we need campaigns to recognize the influence of their electorate that social networks (again, online or offline) provide.
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