Any blog that tries to define a concept is pretentious and, furthermore, often wrong. That’s why I’ll take the easy way and use a reference =).

As you could find in a popular web site, Social Dynamics is:

“the study of the ability of a society to react to inner and outer changes and deal with its regulation mechanisms”

So basically, when we are talking about Social Dynamics, we are just referring to how a social group evolves as it environment changes (and usually we think about that social group as a set of variables). We could be talking about lions in the Sahara or teens in Facebook.

Teens in Facebook is, indeed, a quite pertinent topic these days. And it’s not that Facebook is a super-cool thing, it’s just that the social networks have dynamics that we haven’t seen before, or at least not in this form. As shown in Social Dynamics in Age of the Web by Bernardo A. Huberman of HP Labs, the “economics of attention” that evidences on every rich information environment is critical in the web. As Seth Godin expresses it “in a world where we have too many choices and too little time, the obvious thing to do is just ignore stuff”. Now attention is our most scarce and valuable resource.

But there’s more. Not only attention is precious, but ephemeral. Huberman shows what happens in the “time dimension” to news on Digg. They gain momentum quickly but attention on them peaks early, and soon drops to low levels and finally vanishes. And the reason is quite simple: novelty goes away really fast!

So the moral is: Fight hard for attention, and once you have it, act fast or lose it.