Polly Wiessner profile

The New York Times’ Claudia Dreifus interviews anthropologist Polly Wiessner, known for her pathbreaking work on Hxaro exchange among the !Kung and other social networks in small-scale societies.

Q. WHY ARE THESE NETWORKS WORTH STUDYING?
A. I think they are a clue to how modern humans moved out of Africa around 45,000 years ago. Unless these migrants had support systems in a founding group and could maintain ties with them, it probably wouldnt have been possible to keep pushing into unknown territory.
It only took modern humans some 5,000 years to move out of Africa, cross Eurasia and end up in Australia. I think that the invention of social networks the storing of relationships for a time when you will need them is what facilitated this expansion.

The interview trends from here into the impact of Facebook on today’s social networks, and the changes technology may bring to the Kalahari.