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Ω From Holmes’ Law to Ohm’s Law Jim Chen University of Minnesota Law School Law in the Age of Networks: Implications of Network Science for Legal Analysis.

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Presentation on theme: "Ω From Holmes’ Law to Ohm’s Law Jim Chen University of Minnesota Law School Law in the Age of Networks: Implications of Network Science for Legal Analysis."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ω From Holmes’ Law to Ohm’s Law Jim Chen University of Minnesota Law School Law in the Age of Networks: Implications of Network Science for Legal Analysis University of Illinois Center for Advanced Study March 10, 2006

2 Privacy and Communication as Reciprocal Images Privacy law protects the ability to keep information secret Free speech jurisprudence generally favors broad dissemination of information Sometimes law punishes all forms of communication. E.g., Hoffa v. United States, 385 U.S. 293 (1966) By contrast, we privilege communications between spouses, attorneys & clients, etc.

3 Law as the Conscious Structuring of Information Transfer (Vel Non) Constitutional and common law doctrines involving privacy have a dynamic impact on interpersonal relations –Talking with coconspirators leads to criminal liability and loss of 4th amendment protection –Talking with your spouse, physician, attorney, or cleric is favored Dinner table conversation is the essence of being human Cf. Federalist No. 10: The oxygen that feeds fire also sustains respiration and life –Don’t asphyxiate yourself in an effort to avoid getting burned –Madison knew chemistry had progressed beyond phlogiston!

4 Strahilevitz on Privacy as a Product of Social Networks Lior Jacob Strahilevitz, A Social Networks Theory of Privacy, 72 U. Chi. L. Rev. 919 (2005) Network structure is crucial to understanding the dynamics of privacy (and derivatively of communication) Nodes, strong versus weak links, interaction between structure and culture

5 Key Variables Affecting Social Networks Salience of information –Scandalous or valuable versus boring Connectedness of nodes –Some are “supernodes”; others are recluses Conductivity of nodes –What is the probability that a node will communicate new information? –Some social links are strong; others are weak Complexity of information –Weak links transmit, except as to complex information Durability of information Veracity versus mendacity –Cf. signal versus noise

6 Ohm’s Law as a Static Representation of Holmes’s Law To the extent that the “marketplace of ideas” operates within social networks, we can describe the transmission, suppression, and retention of information in terms used to describe electricity This is a purely static model, with no power to describe, let alone predict, the evolution of these social networks

7 Ohm’s Law and Its Corollaries V = voltage (v) I = current (a) Z = impedance (Ω) R = resistance X = reactance C = capacitance (f) L = inductance (h) f = frequency (Hz) –f of DC = 0 Hz –AC has positive f

8 Electricity as an Analogy for Information Within Social Networks Current or amperage (I) represents the salience of information Impedance (Z), especially pure resistance (R), expresses the lack of conductivity between certain nodes Analogizing complexity to frequency (f) allows us to use concepts of capacitive and inductive reactance (X C and X L ) in analyzing information transmission –Simple information (like DC) is blocked by capacitors –Complex information (like AC) is blocked by inductors in proportion to its frequency Durable information can be stored, as electrical energy can be stored within a capacitor Further work? Ways of quantifying information-bearing signals versus noise shed light on truth v. falsehood

9 Thank You


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