I mean this article here, which attempts to equate the development of social networks to a Darwinian process of evolution.
Rant below the fold.
I think it fails the Occam’s razor test and suffers from a basic logical flaw. The theorists it describes are attempting to apply a biological process–evolution–to a sociological process–social networking. In trying to make this work, they are reduced to polysyllabic babbling.
Attempting to equate sociological processes with biological evolution has been tried before, most notably by Herbert Spencer, with the concept of “social darwinism,” which turned out to be fallacious and pernicious.
An excerpt from the article:
“Our work was the first really systematic attempt to study Darwinian evolution on arbitrary networks,” says Lieberman. “The problem for theorists is that when you try to account for the network, the maths can get much harder. There’s a back-and-forth that goes on between networks and Darwinian evolution. On the one hand, the network structure affects the direction evolution will take; but on the other hand, over time evolution will remodel the network.”
Here’s the trap they fall into:
Everything evolves, in the meaning of the word “evolution” that means “growth and change over time.”
This is not the same as evolution in the biological sense, which means natural selection to adapt to the environment over time (these are my words, not some official definition).
The development of social networks is a sociological process, not a biological one.
But the language quoted in the story reminds me of one of the lessons I learned in years of working in large organizations:
- the bigger the words, the emptier the proposal.
And none of this will explain how Twitter can make money.