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Time as a limited resource: Communication Strategy in Mobile Phone Networks

Authors: Giovanna Miritello, Esteban Moro, Rubén Lara, Rocío Martínez-López, Sam G. B. Roberts, Robin I. M. Dunbar
Journal: Social Networks 35, 89 (2013) LINK | arXiv

Abstract: We used a large database of 9 billion calls from 20 million mobile users to examine the relationships between aggregated time spent on the phone, personal network size, tiestrength and the way in which users distributed their limited time across their network (disparity). Compared to those with smaller networks, those with large networks did not devote proportionally more time to communication and had on average weaker ties (as measured by time spent communicating). Further, there were not substantially different levels of disparity between individuals, in that mobile users tend to distribute their time very unevenly across their network, with a large proportion of calls going to a small number of individuals. Together, these results suggest that there are time constraints which limit tie strength in large personal networks, and that even high levels of mobile communication do not fundamentally alter the disparity of time allocation across networks.


Esteban Moro

Professor at Northeastern University. Working on Complex Systems, Social Networks and Urban Science.