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Hyperlink cinema is an emergent film genre that seeks to push the boundaries of the medium in order to mirror contemporary life in the globalized community. Films in the genre thus create an interacting network across space and time in such a way as to suggest that people's lives can intersect on scales that would not have been possible without modern technologies of travel and communication. This allows us to test the hypothesis that new kinds of media might permit us to break through the natural cognitive constraints that limit the number and quality of social relationships we can manage in the conventional face-to-face world. We used network analysis to test this hypothesis with data from 12 hyperlink films, using 10 motion pictures from a more conventional film genre as a control. We found few differences between hyperlink cinema films and the control genre, and few differences between hyperlink cinema films and either the real world or classical drama (e.g., Shakespeare's plays). Conversation group size seems to be especially resilient to alteration. It seems that, despite many efficiency advantages, modern media are unable to circumvent the constraints imposed by our evolved psychology.

Original publication




Journal article


Hum Nat

Publication Date





414 - 429


Cognition, Humans, Interpersonal Relations, Motion Pictures as Topic, Social Behavior, Social Environment