Math and Social Networks

I signed up for Networked Life with Professor Michael Kearns from Coursera – just to test out their course model and to see if I had a chance of dealing with a math/statistical type course. The course intro insists that you don’t have to have more than basic high school math and that the course is designed for a non-techie audience

So far it’s been very interesting but I’m finding the time required in terms of Internet connectivity is really challenging as I’ve only been in 2 places that have sufficient bandwidth for me to stream the videos. I can’t download them although the icon in the course page appears to me that I should be able to download.

I found Prof Kearns is a good lecturer for the most part. He seems to like lecturing to a web page at times which is hard to see on an iPad although his highlighting helps. Funny that he seemed to be reeally bad about highlighting when he introduced the Erdos Project website. I could only follow part of where he was reading on the web page as the text was too small and I couldn’t always see his highllights

I’ve also found that the two Columbia web links he provided for Week 1 don’t seem to open in Safari on the web and I was unable to get access to the 1969 paper as I didn’t have enough notice that I would be required to pay for it – would be nice if “free” courses highlighted the need to purchase supporting resources before you start. He did provide a Wikipedia link and I’ve saved that for offline reading

I liked the fact that I could take two runs at the quizzes – had to do them all at once cuz I won’t have bandwidth for the next couple of days and they were due tomorrow

So…that’s just some of the basic comments about the structure.
The content is very relevant to what we’re learning about the impact of social networks. Fascinating stuff. I’ll be curious to see where he goes with his discussion of the processes of contagion. I’m curious how well we’ll be able to predict spread and speed without knowing more about social network structures and the underlying characteristics of “edges”. I still can’t quite get my head around the thought that connections between nodes need more than a number to define their relationship in a meaningful way. Seems lacking in depth.

Hopefully I’ll be able to keep up. I’ve definitely added Malcolm Gladwell’s book to my shopping list – we’re off to Portland in the next week – bet I can find it there. I want a physical copy as I can’t always haul out my iPad and readit easily at campgrounds and such.


About Cloudsyl

Now a mid-Island observer of the Cloud
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