Per occultus illustro; per obscuro verus.
The old crypto-anarchist's maxim floated into my thoughts as I pondered Alchemy's request."Someone's playing us against ourselves, and we need to know who."
Alchemy gave me an embarrassingly large dataset to fold, spindle, and mutilate until I found the answer. Embarrassing because I had no idea Evoke was keeping that much data...
And I hardly knew what to do with it.
Thousands of members and their "friend" linkages, hundreds of thousands of posts and comments... That was par for the course for social graph analysis, though the granular precision of the timing logs surprised me. Alchemy must have expected to be concerned with a close accounting of how information spread across the network. What made this dataset utterly unique was the peculiar praise system of "Evoke Power Voting."
I'd seen social network sites that tracked their members up/down and like/dislike voting trends, but I'd never seen a dataset that revealed all those actions. Combined with the timing logs, and cross-referenced against the full archive of personal messages (another surprise), this dataset was a nearly perfect record of every action across the entire network since it began.
Somewhere in this vast dataset (which my inner privacy watchdog was barking at ferociously) was the evidence that some of us had begun working at cross purposes to the rest of us.
Never mind finding a needle in a haystack.
Try diving into a swimming pool of needles to fish out a paperclip.
So I made a few calls, and began to chop up green peppers, onions, and olives. I sliced my way through a few of the stranger gourds from our CSA box, mixed the pulp in with the cornmeal dough, and began to knead. By the time the pizzas were ready to come out of the oven, four of my old students were gathered around the kitchen table, and while they hadn't found the answer, they'd come up with a good algorithm.