Tuesday, December 7, 2010

1 Million Social Health Influencers and Counting

Stowe Boyd recently commented on two talks Clay Shirky had given recent about research that shows how our vast social networks impact our health.
"In a nutshell, it turns out that the activities of the ‘third neighborhood’ influence you in ways you may be completely unaware of.  These are people that you do not know, but are (dis)connected to you by two removes: the friends of your friends’ friends. Christakis and Fowler found that obesity, smoking, and many other medical factors strongly correlated with the prevalence of corresponding activities in these large social scenes."
He goes on to describe how Clay would like to see the emergence of new tools that would let us
understand how our friends of friends of friends, which is likely to be on the order of a million people, plus or minus, influence us.  Boyd calls this our social scene — the group that actually influences your thinking, moods, buying and health behavior — and comments how this is in completely untapped and untappable with today's tools.  Stowe and Clay have highlighted an important need.  Fortunately, personalized social health analysis tools on the draw boards will soon allow each of us to understand new ways that we can improve our health by giving us a view how our social scene's impact our lifestyle choices.

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