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Talking homophily with Brooke Gladstone and On The Media

It’s been very gratifying to read comments and posts linking to my post last week on homophily, serendipity and xenophilia. I have high hopes of writing more on the topic, and am currently digging into “Birds of a Feather: Homophily in Social Networks“, which danah boyd recommends as a thorough academic introduction to the subject. (That link will give you a summary of the paper, which is available in full text on JSTOR, a subscription-only journal archive. You may be able to get the full text of the paper if you access JSTOR from a university library… which is how I got a copy of it.)

So far, the research I’ve done has given me a sense for just how far back in time I need to go to understand scholarship on this issue… which appears to precede Aristotle, who writes about the phenomenon in Nichomachean Ethics, but who may be quoting Diogenes when he references “birds of a feather flock together”. Guess I picked a terrific time to take a month off from all reading

One of the most exciting (for me, at least) conversations that’s come out of the post was one I had with Brooke Gladstone on Wednesday evening at WNYC’s studios in New York City. I was in NYC doing a bit of consulting for friends at Open Society Institute when I got a call from Jamie York, one of the producers of On The Media, my favorite public radio show. He’d shared my post with Brooke and they were kind enough to invite me into the studio to discuss the problems of homophily in digital media and possible solutions. You can listen to my segment on the audio player above, or on the page for our conversation. But I’d urge you to subscribe to the podcast – if you’re interested in smart, sharp, relavent critique of media around the world, this show is for you.

It was a great honor for me to be on the air with Brooke and I’m looking forward to thinking through these issues a bit more so I can speak more intelligently next time (and so I can be a bit less of a stuttering fanboy around one of my favorite public radio figures.)

8 thoughts on “Talking homophily with Brooke Gladstone and On The Media”

  1. Smarmy, I no longer sit on the board you refered to in that earlier post. I now sit on the board of the US programs – by “consult”, in this context, I mean “spent a day interviewing candidates for a job with the US programs for no pay.” If you have an ethical concern about me giving my time away to OSI in that fashion, you’re really reaching for a conflict of interest…

  2. Ethan, congratulations on the podcast. I’m looking forward to you doing more homework on the topic while I think about it from another angle.

    By the way, if “birds of a feather…” is homophily, what is “preaching to the choir”?

  3. I just heard your interview on NPR. It was fascinating and certainly gave me a lot to reflect upon personally.
    In confirmation of your ideas/theories, I was more inclined to visit and read you blog as, I too, have been to Accra and a piece of my heart is there as well.

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  5. hi ethan, I have read your essay about homophily on an italian magazine, “internazionale”. I agree with you that it’s easier to be surrounded by similar people, while listening to diversity needs a major effort. the newcoming world is more and more multiface, and being open minded will be an issue to grow less dramatically.
    great blog, and great author!
    snoq, italy

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