By Jonah Lehrer, WIRED, 09.21.09

“The story of modern science is the story of studying ever smaller bits of nature, like atoms and neurons,” Christakis says. “But people aren’t just the sum of their parts. I see this research as an attempt to put human beings back together again.” For the first time in history, we can keep track of hundreds of people.

…On Facebook…the average user has approximately 110 “friends,” which has led some scientists to speculate that the Web is altering the very nature of human networks. The computer, they say, is helping to compensate for the limitations of the brain.

…”On Facebook, you’ve got a few close friends and lots of people you barely know,” Fowler says. “Because the cost of information transmission is so low”—that is, the site makes it easy to communicate—”we end up staying in touch with more acquaintances. But that doesn’t mean we have more friends.”

Another article about studies done by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler using the Framingham Heart Study data as maps of social networks. We posted ‘Is Happiness Catching?’ from the New York Times Magazine a couple of weeks ago, but this article is worth a read for it’s analysis of whether social media really change social networks. Like WIRED’s earlier piece on the power of ‘personal metrics’,  this article shows us the potential of creating a ‘macroscope’ for viewing how people act and react to each other within a social ecosystem.