social density

Groups, networks, friends, and even loose 2nd and 3rd party connections via social media all have similar characteristics when viewed from a distance. Groups of people interconnected in some way.

However, the real value of a group is its density, how close they are, and how mutual are all the links, how much they share, and of crucial importance, how much they contribute rather than just being conduits.

A small group is able to self regulate easily, there is little tolerance of free-riders, there is a high degree of “density” among the members. However, a large group is poor at identifying and excluding free-riders. The number and strength of connections between individuals in the larger group are much less, and weaker, there are those in the group who have no connection with each other beyond membership of the group: the density of the group is much lower.

A high density enables stuff to get done, the group can co-ordinate the actions of its members. But there is a paradox here, a large group can also co-ordinate, and in a short time, but only in the negative, it can be somewhere to stop something, to protest, a very simple, single purpose, but it cannot map a course of action and follow it. A dense group can map a course, follow it, and if dense enough, accommodate changes in direction.
Consider how easy it is for a group of three friends to agree to go to the pictures next week.

They agree a time and film to see that suits them all.

Now consider the added complications of adding an extra three friends to the party, all that extra schedule matching, as well as the varying tastes in film. How much more difficult this would all be if the added three are just acquaintances of one of the original three, unknown to the others.

Density, not numbers is the key to social success, in media, as well as in life.