Google backs research to improve social networks

Feb 22, 2011 By Bill Steele

Cornell researchers will collaborate with Google experts to improve group interaction in online social networks. The work will be supported by a grant of $800,000 from Google Inc.

The interdisciplinary group of researchers -- including economists, sociologists and computer scientists -- seeks to better understand the social and economic factors behind online social networks and apply what they learn to make such groups run more smoothly. The new design and management techniques will also be used to improve the effectiveness of social groups that collaborate to solve problems or build online knowledge resources.

One of the challenges is that most systems create links between people, but the links lack important levels of detail, said Jon Kleinberg, the Tisch University Professor of Computer Science and principal investigator. Today's systems, for example, do not provide natural ways to represent the attitudes that people have toward each other, or the roles that various individuals play in a person's life.

"Current representations of are not able to capture the full richness of in users' real lives," Kleinberg said.

The team also hopes to find ways to shape the design of social networks to make them less likely to fall into social disorder and to encourage members to produce more useful content.

"There is still relatively little understanding ... of what distinguishes healthy, successful groups -- those with productive discourse and beneficial interactions -- from groups that are dominated by conflict or that tend toward inactivity," the researchers said.

The Cornell research team also includes economists David Easley and Larry Blume; Éva Tardos, Lillian Lee, Robert Kleinberg and Dan Huttenlocher; information scientist Dan Cosley; communication professor Geri Gay; and sociologist Michael Macy.

The group has been collaborating for some time on similar research, working as the Center for the Interface of Networks, Computation and Economics. On this project they will work closely with researchers inside , allowing investigations that can draw on Google's vast amounts of data and widely used applications. Google hopes that insights from the research can inform future social networking applications.

Explore further: UK: Former reporter sentenced for phone hacking

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tracking the digital traces of social networks

Feb 14, 2009

Why do we create and maintain social networks? Most people can immediately think of a few natural reasons -- we get something from the interaction, or the person is nearby and is close to us in proximity, age or gender.

The Web: Social networking searches

Jun 07, 2006

Media mogul Martha Stewart is launching an online social network for women -- joining other entrepreneurs who are starting similar projects and are collectively propelling social networks into the mainstream of the Internet, ...

Challenging HIV through social networking

Dec 06, 2010

Tapping into young people's use of online social networks presents health agencies with a powerful opportunity to help control the rise in HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in homeless youth in Los Angeles. According ...

Recommended for you

Study shows role of media in sharing life events

16 hours ago

To share is human. And the means to share personal news—good and bad—have exploded over the last decade, particularly social media and texting. But until now, all research about what is known as "social sharing," or the ...

UK: Former reporter sentenced for phone hacking

23 hours ago

(AP)—A former British tabloid reporter was given a 10-month suspended prison sentence Thursday for his role in the long-running phone hacking scandal that shook Rupert Murdoch's media empire.

Evaluating system security by analyzing spam volume

Jul 24, 2014

The Center for Research on Electronic Commerce (CREC) at The University of Texas at Austin is working to protect consumer data by using a company's spam volume to evaluate its security vulnerability through the SpamRankings.net ...

Surveillance a part of everyday life

Jul 24, 2014

Details of casual conversations and a comprehensive store of 'deleted' information were just some of what Victoria University of Wellington students found during a project to uncover what records companies ...

European Central Bank hit by data theft

Jul 24, 2014

(AP)—The European Central Bank said Thursday that email addresses and other contact information have been stolen from a database that serves its public website, though it stressed that no internal systems or market-sensitive ...

Twitter admits to diversity problem in workforce

Jul 24, 2014

(AP)—Twitter acknowledged Wednesday that it has been hiring too many white and Asian men to fill high-paying technology jobs, just like several other major companies in Silicon Valley.

User comments : 0