Gueorgi Kossinets, a researcher at Google Inc. who's familiar with the findings, described its value this way: "It is important to know if and how social and group behavior changes as our interactions become progressively more mediated by computers, and the whole new generation of 'digital natives' has grown up surrounded with computers, smart phones and Web applications. It affects all of us ultimately."
So, do people simply not learn anything from one another?
That's not the case, said Noah Mark, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. "The vast majority of the things we do -- drinking coffee, wearing clothes, driving a car, 'friending' a friend -- we learned to do from other people," he said. "The words we speak with, we learned from other people. We, as individuals, did not invent these words, ideas or practices."
The study is published Dec. 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
For a slightly darker take on what forms the basis of friendships, check out this research from the University of Pennsylvania.
SOURCES: Kevin Lewis, graduate student, sociology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.; Gueorgi Kossinets, Ph.D., researcher, Google Inc., Mountain View, Calif.; Noah Mark, Ph.D., assistant professor, sociology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte; Dec. 19-23, 2011, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science
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