This week I will discuss my own Facebook network. We used the program Touchgraph to make a figure as seen below in figure 1. The biggest group, the red one, is my student society ‘Veritas’ in Utrecht. Veritas is with 1600 members the biggest student society in Utrecht and both men and women are part of it. Those people all live in Utrecht, and are all between 18-25 years old and all study at a graduate school or a university. Their expertise is very diverse, because they all study something else. In my Veritas-network there are medical-, law school-, geology-, psychology-, economy-, biology-, and many other students of different fields. The purple group are the people I know from my hometown, Heiloo. It is a little village near the city of Alkmaar in the province of Noord-Holland. My family, former hockeyteammates, and friends from high school are part of this group. The most common expertise of this group is that they all have knowledge of fieldhockey. Some of them are even coach at a big club now. Despite this similarity, the age of the purple group differs from 20 (my sister) to 63 (my father). The two yellow nodes on left are my best friends from the university, who also study administration- and organisation sciences at the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam, which makes them experts in this field. They are both 23 years old and live in Utrecht, which is also a reason why they are connected to some of my friends from Veritas.
Figure 1. My Facebook network in November 2014
If I would imagine I was an entrepreneur I think I would find opportunities, legitimacy and resources to great extent, because of the diverse study backgrounds of my network.
When you look at the red and the purple group, I can be considered as a ‘tertius iungens’. According to Burt (2000), the tertius is ‘the third who benefits’. Specifically, the ‘tertius iungens’ is the ‘third who connects’. The person playing the role of the connecting third, sees opportunities in people meeting each other instead of people not meeting each other. So the result of my acting in this role is that people from both my networks meet each other, and that I can have benefit from it in the future, like when I want to start my own hockey team, both persons already know each other, which would made their choice easier.
In figure 2 below you can see my network in a pyramid layout. The alters in the upper levels have the most common friends as me. For example: the nodes ‘JA’ and ‘MB’ are friends from Heiloo, but they are also members of Veritas, which makes them one of the upper alters.
Figure 2. My Facebook network in November 2014 (pyramid layout)
Floris den Boer
Burt, R. (2000). The Network Entrepreneur. In Swedberg, R. (ed.), Entrepreneurship, The Social Science View. (pp. 281-307). Oxford: Oxford University Press.