Page "belles_lettres" Paragraph 349
from Brown Corpus
We consider a rural community as an assemblage of inhabited dwellings whose configuration is determined by the location and size of the arable land sites necessary for family subsistence.
We assume for this illustration that the size of the land plots is so great that the distance between dwellings is greater than the voice can carry and that most of the communication is between nearest neighbors only, as shown in Figure 2.
Information beyond nearest neighbor is carried second-, third-, and fourth-hand as a distortable rumor.
It will be noted that point f has seven nearest neighbors, h and e have six, and p has only one, while the remaining points have intermediate numbers.
In any social system in which communications have an importance comparable with that of production and other human factors, a point like f in Figure 2 would ( other things being equal ) be the dwelling place for the community leader, while e and h would house the next most important citizens.
A point like p gets information directly from n, but all information beyond n is indirectly relayed through n.
The dweller at p is last to hear about a new cure, the slowest to announce to his neighbors his urgent distresses, the one who goes the farthest to trade, and the one with the greatest difficulty of all in putting over an idea or getting people to join him in a cooperative effort.
Since the hazards of poor communication are so great, p can be justified as a habitable site only on the basis of unusual productivity such as is made available by a waterfall for milling purposes, a mine, or a sugar maple camp.