How we showed Homer’s Odyssey is not pure fiction, with a little help from Facebook

Press/Media: Articles in 'The Conversation'

Description

When you look at networks of people, whether it’s architects or table tennis players or a regular bunch of Facebook friends, they will have certain similarities. They tend to confirm the “six degrees of separation” idea that most people are connected in a few very short steps. Each person tends to have large numbers of connections and to associate with people who are similar to them. The networks are also usually organised into hierarchies.

In fiction – the Marvel universe or Lord of the Rings, say – networks of people usually differin certain ways to the real thing. People don’t only associate with similar people and have smaller numbers of associates, for example. And unlike real networks, you can remove people from the fictional equivalent without undermining the number of connections the remaining people are statistically likely to make. These differences raise an interesting possibility: testing works of fiction to see how far they deviate from reality.

Period3 Sep 2018

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