Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Will You Digg This PNAS Article On Digg?

Add to Digg Digg

Probably not. And even if you did, the collective Digg audience will forget about it in 69 minutes.
To study the dynamics of collective attention and its relation to novel inputs in a natural setting, we analyzed the behavioral patterns of 1 million people interacting with a news web site whose content is solely determined by its own users. Because people using this web site assign each news story an explicit measure of popularity, we were able to determine the growth and decay of attention for thousands of news stories and to validate a theoretical model that predicts both the dynamics and the statistical distribution of story lifetimes.
The authors (Wu & Huberman, 2007) go on to describe a model of decay culminating in this equation:


Wu F, Huberman BA. (2007). Novelty and collective attention. Proc Natl Acad Sci. Oct 25; [Epub ahead of print].

The subject of collective attention is central to an information age where millions of people are inundated with daily messages. It is thus of interest to understand how attention to novel items propagates and eventually fades among large populations. We have analyzed the dynamics of collective attention among 1 million users of an interactive web site, digg.com, devoted to thousands of novel news stories. The observations can be described by a dynamical model characterized by a single novelty factor. Our measurements indicate that novelty within groups decays with a stretched-exponential law, suggesting the existence of a natural time scale over which attention fades.

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