Local interactions and the emergence of a Twitter small-world network

Eugene Ch’ng

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

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The small-world phenomenon is found in many self-organising systems. Systems configured in small-world networks spread information more easily than in random or regular lattice-type networks. Whilst it is a known fact that small-world networks have short average path length and high clustering coefficient in self-organising systems, the ego centralities that maintain the cohesiveness of small-world network have not been formally defined. Here we show that instantaneous events such as the release of news items via Twitter, coupled with active community arguments related to the news item form a particular type of small-world network. Analysis of the centralities in the network reveals that community arguments maintain the small-world network whilst actively maintaining the cohesiveness and boundary of the group. The results demonstrate how an active Twitter community unconsciously forms a small-world network whilst interacting locally with a bordering community. Over time, such local interactions brought about the global emergence of the small-world network, connecting media channels with human activities. Understanding the small-world phenomenon in relation to online social or civic movement is important, as evident in the spate of online activists that tipped the power of governments for the better or worst in recent times. The support, or removal of high centrality nodes in such networks has important ramifications in the self-expression of society and civic discourses. The presentation in this article anticipates further exploration of man-made self-organising systems where a larger cluster of ad-hoc and active community maintains the overall cohesiveness of the network.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-40
JournalSocial Networking
Issue number02
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2015


  • social network analysis, social movement, community, #freejahar, small-world networks


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