Identifying the Structural Discontinuities of Human Interactions

The idea of a hierarchical spatial organization of society lies at the core of seminal theories in human geography that have strongly influenced our understanding of social organization. In the same line, the recent availability of large-scale human mobility and communication data has offered novel quantitative insights hinting at a strong geographical confinement of human interactions within neighboring regions, extending to local levels within countries. However, models of human interaction largely ignore this effect. Here, we analyze several country-wide networks of telephone calls and uncover a systematic decrease of communication induced by borders which we identify as the missing variable in state-of-the-art models. Using this empirical evidence, we propose an alternative modeling framework that naturally stylize the damping effect of borders. We show that this new notion substantially improves the predictive power of widely used interaction models, thus increasing our ability to predict social activities and to plan the development of infrastructures across multiple scales.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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