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« Using the Internet to Create a New Labor Movement: U.S., U.K., and Harvard Experiences | Main | Effect of Network Structure on Consensus »

17 May 2007

Watts to Yahoo

Notable news in the world of social network research, that Duncan Watts is being hired away from Columbia University by Yahoo.

Duncan Watts, by the by, is a two time speaker on the Cambridge Colloquium on Complexity and Social Networks, and, of course, the Watts of Watts and Strogatz (1998), which marked the beginning of the current era of research on networks by physicists, mathematicians, and the like.

I am not sure what were the key factors in this move, but it is surely notable that one of the "rock stars" of the field is leaving academia. Three obvious potential factors are: (1) the substantial availability of resources in the private sector in this area at this time; (2) the access to proprietary data; and (3) an institutional milieu (at least at Yahoo and Google) more encouraging of cross-boundary innovation than much of academia.

Is this a blip or a wake up call to the academy? I will revisit in a year or so....

D. J. Watts and S. H. Strogatz. Collective dynamics of 'small-world' networks, Nature, 393:440-442 (1998).

Posted by David Lazer at May 17, 2007 7:49 PM