Triadic Closure and Cognitive Balance

Every person has a number of interests and passions. I have a few – Open source technology, Social Networking theories, Photography, Advertising, Science, Sport (in general and football & Liverpool FC in particular) and keeping pace with the news. Its very improbable that you can find any one person who shares all of your passions.

Now, its very difficult (nigh impossible) to find people who I can talk to about everything I find inspiring. Where can I find someone who shouts and screams when Gerrard thumps one into the back of the net and also be inquisitive about a new distributed open-source social media protocol a bunch of NYU students are planning to do over the summer called Diaspora?

Its in that vein that I came across the concept of Triadic Closure. It is an interesting theory which was put forward quite some time ago, and now has a lot of relevancy with the online social networks.

Triadic Closure

Suppose I am the central node in a social relationship graph containing 3 people. Ram and Shyam are two of my friends. Ram is a sports buff but can’t stand technology. He still works on a Windows XP. Shyam, on the other hand, is crazy about open-source as well as design. His laptop runs on Linux with Compiz Fusion and looks like Megan Fox with a keyboard. But he doesn’t know what to do with a football.

Triadic closure states that since I know Ram and Shyam, they would know each other. Either they would be great buddies themselves, or (like in this case) not very good friends but acquainted with each other.

Its a tough situation for me, in the middle.But I am a person who likes to be consistent in what I like and dislike, so I have a tendency to bring my friends, Ram and Shyam, to the same line of thought. This simple idea is what Fritz Heider became famous for formalising way back in the 1940s by calling it Cognitive Balance Theory.

How I wish I was born before all the simple stuff was done!

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