Marketers know all about stickiness, but how many of you measure network density? You purchase all sorts of data from Nielsen and comScore that tells you about uniques, but do you know anything about the cluster dynamics of the users? Are you able to see when the network graph is reaching a sustainable point or, more importantly, when things are starting to fracture?

Community managers and abuse teams have a sense of the health of a community. You probably use all sorts of tools to search for inappropriate behavior or content. But how often are you looking at the network? In a Friend-driven system, if someone is posting child porn, you better be paying detailed attention to that person's Friends. And if you wanna curb problematic behavior, you need to think of the problem in terms of networks, not individuals. Further, while we all agree that killing off some behavior is an absolute imperative, what about the gray lines? The health of a community has a lot to do with its network and you can prune if you prune wisely. There are times and places to chop off a branch and let all of the leaves fall, but this isn't always what's desired.

Network effects are also critical for deployment. People pick up the things that their friends use. This is all fine and well if everyone can get access to the same platform, but when that's not the case, new problems emerge. We're all developing nice new social technologies for the mobile phone. And people even want those technologies. But they aren't taking off. Why? There are no cluster effects. If you use IE and I use Firefox, we can still both get to Facebook. If you use Windows Mobile and I use an iPhone or you're on Verizon and I'm on AT&T, the chances of us being able to do the same things with our devices are pretty limited, especially when you take into account the limited nature of data plans. We can't role out cool new technologies if we can't get cluster effects. We don't just need network effects to get things to spread; we also need to think in terms of complete clusters. And we need to design with this in mind.

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