Divergent interests, expertise, and language form cultural barriers to communication. No formalism has been available to characterize these \cultural holes.” Here, we use information theory to measure cultural holes, and demonstrate our formalism in the context of scientific communication using papers from JSTOR . We extract scientific fields from the structure of citation flows, and infer field-specific cultures by cataloguing phrase frequencies in full text and measuring the relative efficiency of between-field communication. We then combine citation and cultural information in a novel topographic map of science, mapping citations to geographic distance and cultural holes to topography. By analyzing the full citation network, we find that communicative efficiency decays with citation distance in a field-specific way. These decay rates reveal hidden patterns of cohesion and fragmentation. For example, the ecological sciences are balkanized by jargon, while the social sciences are relatively integrated. Our results highlight the importance of enriching structural analyses with cultural data.
For More: Vilhena, Daril A., Jacob G. Foster, Martin Rosvall, Jevin D. West, James Evans, and Carl T. Bergstrom. 2014. “Finding Cultural Holes: How Structure and Culture Diverge in Networks of Scholarly Communication.” Sociological Science 1: 221-238.