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The digital scholar
The digital scholar

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1.8 Loose connections

Having made mention of Dunbar’s numbers this activity introduces them more fully.

Activity 2 Numbers

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

Watch this short video of Robin Dunbar explaining what is meant by Dunbar’s number.

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Dunbar's number
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How does this compare with your own experience? There has been some research that shows Dunbar’s numbers hold true online also (Konnikova, 2014). It is, however, easier to maintain a larger network of loose associations online. Consider how many online connections you have, and which of these you would fully classify as friends.

Make some notes or post on your blog about this.

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The implication of Dunbar research is often that face-to-face connections are more ‘real’ or meaningful in some sense. Increasingly scholars are finding meaningful connections online, particularly if they are working alone in a subject within their own institution. A good example of this is the Virtually Connecting group that have arranged for virtual participation in conferences (and hangouts) allowing people who may be excluded from participating to feel part of the event. You can get a feel for this type of community by looking at some of their videos on YouTube [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .