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A Plague of Viruses: Biological, Computer and Marketing

Jeffrey Boase, Barry Wellman
Current Sociology, Vol. 49, No. 6, 39-55
ISSN 0011-3921
September 2001

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The article analyses the transfer of biological, computer and marketing viruses. Despite differences between these three types of viruses, network structure affects their spread in similar ways. The authors distinguish between two forms of networks - densely knit and ramified - and show that biological, computer and marketing viruses all behave in similar ways depending on the form of network. Densely knit networks promote the quick dissemination of a virus, and increase the odds that many of the members will become infected. Ramified networks allow a virus to disperse widely, jumping between different milieux. In the end, the spread of viruses in the real world involves a combination of both densely knit and ramified networks, which the authors call ‘glocalization’.

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