Tag Archives: wikipedia

New article published in Physical Review Letters puts forth new model of online popularity dynamics

Online popularity can be thought of as analogous to an earthquake; it is sudden, unpredictable, and the effects are severe. While shifts in online popularity are not inherently destructive – consider the unprecedented magnitude of online giving via Twitter following the disaster in Haiti – they indicate radical swings in society’s collective attention. Given the increasingly profound effect that large-scale opinion formation has on important phenomena like public policy, culture, and advertising profits, understanding this behavior is essential to understanding how the world operates.

In this paper by Ratkiewicz and colleagues, the authors put forth a web-wide analysis that includes large-scale data sets of the online behaviors of millions of people. The paper offers a novel model that is is capable of reproducing all of the observed dynamics of online popularity through a mechanism that causes sudden, nonlinear bursts of collective attention. These results have been mentioned in the APS and PhysOrg websites.

NaN Abstract for Michael Conover’s April 21st Talk

“The problem with Wikipedia is that it only works in practice. In theory, it can never work.”  — Zeroeth Law of Wikipedia

One of the most important social and intellectual phenomena of the 21st century, the collaboratively-edited online encyclopedia Wikipedia is vexing in its ability to produce informative articles on a multitude of subjects.  Leveraging graph theoretic techniques to measure the degree to which latent connections between articles are present in the Wikipedia corpus we demonstrate that the collaborative editing process produces, over time, an increasingly logically-connected information artifact. Moreover, using the public-domain 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica as a benchmark corpus for the single-author-article paradigm, we demonstrate that Wikipedia contains a growing core of mature articles which exhibit a degree of logical connectedness significantly surpassing that found in the Encyclopedia Britannica. Taken in conjunction with an understanding of Wikipedia’s accuracy and topical coverage, this conclusion paints a rich portrait of the strengths and weaknesses of both collaboratively- and single-author-edited encyclopedias.