A mathematical model of the way opinions evolve in social networks has shown why two groups holding opposing views can quickly become reconciled or remain at odds…The researchers suggest the results may help to explain why polarized communities can suddenly emerge rather than gradually appear. In the US, for example, researchers have noted an extreme and persisting polarization among bloggers expressing either Democratic or Republican political views. If most bloggers tend to read only those who agree with them, groups associated with these differing positions can easily persist.
The work may also help explain why languages remain distinct across geographic borders rather than merging into a common tongue. The researchers argue that the same dynamic may preserve differences across boundaries where communications links are weak.
It may also help to account for the existence of small communities who use products different from the majority, such as Mac users in the graphic arts, Lambiotte suggests. But the model hints that the existence of these communities may be tenuous because even a small amount of interconnection could lead to their blending back into the majority.
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