Monday, February 4, 2008

Social Capital Simulation

Our recent work has explored the concept of social capital, which I have discussed previously. Our social capital metrics, namely bonding and bridging (popularized by Robert Putnam), utilize the hybrid network methodology that we have developed for online communities.

To understand our metrics, I have created a basic social capital simulation (an excel spreadsheet) having five nodes. The simulation allows for you to change the connection strengths in both the implicit affinity network (IAN) or explicit social network (ESN). Changing these values will give you an idea of how social capital fluctuates as the social network changes.

The figure above shows the initial configuration of the simulation. The dashed blue lines represent the IAN and the solid pink lines represent the ESN. The thicker the lines the stronger the connection. The weights for the IAN were randomly assigned, while the ESN weights were all set to one, thus creating a clique.

Initially, the bonding and bridging social capital are both 1, since everyone in the network is connected. To see how the social capital fluctuates, change the blue and/or pink values, again representing the IAN and the ESN weights respectively, in the spreadsheet.

(Note: This article was originally posted on

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