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Social Networks Science

Online Social Networks Can Be Tipped By Less Than 1% of Their Population 125

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-are-all-individuals dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A new algorithm developed by researchers at West Point seems to break new ground for viral marketing practices in online social networks. Assuming a trend or behavior that spreads in an online social network based on the classic 'tipping' model from sociology (based on the work of Thomas Schelling and Mark Granovetter), the new West Point algorithm can find a set of individuals in the network that can initiate a social cascade – a progressive series of 'tipping' incidents — which leads to everyone in the social network adopting the new behavior. The good news for viral marketers is that this set of individuals is often very small – a sample of the Friendster social network can be influenced when only 0.8% of the initial population is seeded. The trick is finding the seed set. The algorithm is described in a paper to be presented later this summer at the prestigious IEEE ASONAM conference."
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Online Social Networks Can Be Tipped By Less Than 1% of Their Population

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:54PM (#40211109) Journal

    a sample of the Friendster social network can be influenced when only 0.8% of the initial population is seeded.

    Friendster? Wow, you could influence, like, 300 people!

    Any chance they're just witnessing C&C nodes transmitting spam orders or pagerank gaming links to the remaining 99.2% of Friendster accounts (all of which are hacked and forgotten)?

    • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:04PM (#40211231)

      Friendster? Wow, you could influence, like, 300 people

      American-centrist much, you insensitive clod?

      From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friendster [wikipedia.org]

      Since the relaunch of Friendster as a social gaming platform in June 2011, the number of registered users has reached over 115 million. Over 90% of Friendster's traffic came from Asia. The top 10 countries accessing Friendster, according to Alexa, as of May 7, 2009 are the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, South Korea, Bangladesh and India

      • 115 million? whodathot friendster could be bigger than a lot of major religions?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bkaul01 (619795)
          How are you defining a "major religion"? Christianity has around 2 billion adherents, Islam around 1.5 billion, Hinduism around a billion, Buddhism around half a billion ... other than Judaism, what major religions can count less than 115 million people?
          • by Anonymous Coward

            > other than Judaism, what major religions

            Obviously Judaism isnt a "major religion" then.

          • by Eponymous Hero (2090636) on Monday June 04, 2012 @04:12PM (#40212919)
            like this: christianity is not a religion, it's a classification of religions. catholics are not methodists are not baptists are not 7th day adventists are not episcopalians are not jehovah witnesses etc...
            • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

              by mcgrew (92797) *

              Wrong. The inside of a Baptist church is no different than the inside of a Methodist church, and the sermons are likewise similar. The only thing that's different is the trappings; all of Christainity worship the same savior and are supposed to follow the same rules. It's no different than Ubuntu and Red Hat, both are Linux and use the same kernel.

              Also, the GP's numbers are flawed (I looked it up a few weeks ao in response to a /. comment). He's overestimating the Hinus by a little, the Muslims by a little,

              • You forgot to mention - when he didn't capitalize Like, he insulted half a dozen Grammar Nazis.

              • i do not give a fuck what people think about my lower-case style. if you're too ignorant to realize this is my style and not flamebait, i have no sympathy for you. also, i'm not required to believe in or even respect any religion so the capitalization rule is even more irrelevant to me. oh, and you're completely wrong about there being no difference. many of them have wildly different definitions of what's required to go to heaven (and even what heaven is). some say you just need to "accept" christ, others
                • by mcgrew (92797) *

                  Your "style" is completely unreadable. There was a book written by a drug addict with the same style that a friend wanted me to read, I got halfway through the first page and gave up.

                  Your aliteracy is showing, son.

                  • my "style" requires that people pay attention to what i'm writing, rather than skimming over the words-as-pictures that are recognizable and misunderstanding my message due to laziness. speaking in all caps is considered shouting, so what i'm doing is merely speaking softly. you have to listen closely. you grok?
                    • by mcgrew (92797) *

                      Those of us who are used to reading are used to all the nuances that writing entails, including punctuation, capitalization, and often spelling if the misspelling changes the meaning of the sentence. Writing in either all caps or all lowercase makes one think the only thing you've ever read was the internet. Meaning, of course, a whole lot of ignorance.

                      Those of us who actually read don't have to struggle to understand what is written, so long as the so-called "writer" can actually write coherently. Not usin

                    • i keep getting the feeling that you think i care what you think.
                    • by mcgrew (92797) *

                      And I got the feeling that you might want to be educated. My bad.

                    • wow. you really think you're the first person to whine like a bitch about my lowercase style? you must think you're really important. i know it annoys weirdo, OCD, anxiety-ridden control freaks like yourself, and that gives me great pleasure.
                    • by mcgrew (92797) *

                      Whatever floats your boat. If you want to continue to look ignorant, knock yourself out.

                    • to the 2-3 other people reading this exchange, does it seem ironic to you that for someone who professes to hate reading my style so much, he's spent more time than anyone else doing just that? makes me wonder what his definition of ignorance is.
              • all of Christainity worship the same savior and are supposed to follow the same rules.

                That's not completely true. While they all have their roots in the same book, the actual religions can be very different.

                Roman Catholics, for example, include the worship of demigods (they call them Saints) and obeisance to the Church hierarchy, as well as the rite of confession. Some Protestant religions base their religion on personal understanding of the New and Old Testaments, and the Good Book is the only set of ru

                • by aamcf (651492)

                  Roman Catholics, for example, include the worship of demigods (they call them Saints)

                  No they do not.

                  I'm not a Roman Catholic, but I am married to one, and my best friend is one.

                  • I was born a Roman Catholic. I am married to one.

                    Roman Catholics pray to their Saints for divine favors. They have special days of services and rituals for specific Saints.

                    I don't know what to call that other than worship.
                • So sum everything up GOD = Operating System Religion = Kernel Wings = Dist Did I get it right? (Note GOD)
              • by vegiVamp (518171)

                And, just like both Redhat and Ubuntu apply their own patches to the standard kernel, so do the different sects within the same brand twist the rules to suit them - Jehovas can't receive blood, anglicans seem to have little problems with gays and women, et cetera.

                It also depends on where you grip the various sects together to get bigger brands. You talk about Christianity as a big one; but why not grab just one branch higher and group the christians together with the jews and probably a few others under the

                • by mcgrew (92797) *

                  Christianity as a big one; but why not grab just one branch higher and group the christians together with the jews and probably a few others under the Abrahamic religion?

                  Because it's completely different. The Jews and Muslims are under the old covenant (they're God's chosen people) and followers of Christ are under the new covenant. Jews and Muslims must lead a perfect, sinless life to get to heaven, but Christians' sins have been paid for in blood.

                  Well, except for buddhism, that has a fat man instead.

                  I spe

                  • by vegiVamp (518171)

                    >> Well, except for buddhism, that has a fat man instead.
                    > I spent a year in Thailand, a Bhuddist country, and learned quite a bit about their religion. Obviously you know little about Bhuddism.

                    I'm no expert on the various forms, no; but I do realise that pure, godless buddhism has in many places been mixed into the local god-based religion - so also in Thailand.

                    None of that was the point, however.

                    • by mcgrew (92797) *

                      Well, yes, Bhuddism is a godless religion, but the Thais still fear and respect "spirits". They build ornate little houses about the size of a bird house outside their home for the spirits to live in, so they won't go inside their own homes.

              • by bkaul01 (619795)

                I just grabbed numbers from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]. I don't claim that they're precise, only that they're all a heck of a lot larger than 115 million.

                I think the high-end estimates for "Christianity", though, often include groups such as Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc., whose beliefs most Christians would not consider to fall within (or even necessarily close to) the bounds of theological orthodoxy.

            • by bkaul01 (619795)

              But if you leave out the JWs (and maybe the 7DAs), whose beliefs are rather heterodox, the rest that you mentioned (as well as the Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and any number of other denominational or nondenominational classifications you could use to categorize Christians) absolutely share a core belief in the fundamental doctrines of the faith: e.g. essentially all Christians would agree with both the content of the three major ecumenical creeds [cresourcei.org] and the centrality and importance of that co

      • by mrops (927562) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:50PM (#40211823)

        I looked at it, and it looks like this

        public static boolean willTip(User user) {
          if(user.sex == SexType.FEMALE && user.hotness>(Long.MAX_VALUE-100)) {
              return true
          }
          return false;
        }

    • by plover (150551) * on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:25PM (#40211497) Homepage Journal

      Any chance they're just witnessing C&C nodes transmitting spam orders or pagerank gaming links to the remaining 99.2% of Friendster accounts (all of which are hacked and forgotten)?

      It's a comp sci paper that is looking for connected nodes in a network, and they're using copies of data sets of social networks as their starting point. They aren't monitoring networks looking for "who is exerting influence over them", they're looking for nodes that are well connected to other nodes, presuming those represent the most valuable people to convince.

      Now, could those "friends and families" in the network data actually be there as part of a botnet controller and its zombie minions? Sure, why not? But each one of those would be a single node in the set of nodes as having the right connections. Doesn't mean that marketing to the botherder or the botnet is going to get you much business, but if you were looking for someone who has influence, it would identify the botherder and not the bots themselves.

    • The algorithm is described in a paper to be presented later this summer at the prestigious IEEE ASONAM conference.

      I can just imagine the talk now.

      We were dead wrong. The IEEE ASONAM conference is not prestigious at all. No one takes our tweets seriously. The algorithm proved conclusively that my 13 years old kid sister has more prestige and influence over the rest of academia than the entire IEEE ASONAM conference speakers and attendees combined.

  • by Sparticus789 (2625955) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:56PM (#40211133) Journal

    Is this what Occupy means when they say 1% of the country controls everything?

    • by jellomizer (103300) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:14PM (#40211357)

      But which 1%, There are a lot of 1% out there.

      The Tea Party is controlled by the Oil Companies 1%.
      The Occupy is controlled by the Unions 1%
      The Favorite Trend is controlled by the Marketers 1%...

      It doesn't seem that you have any decisions to make for yourself, There is always someone else telling you what to think.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        I'm not sure the examples you give each represent a different 1% Keeping the 99% busy pointing fingers at each other seems to be the strategy.
      • by skids (119237)

        It doesn't seem that you have any decisions to make for yourself, There is always someone else telling you what to think.

        There will always be people telling other people what to think. It's called communication. In some cases this is because people who actually know better than "common sense" feel obligated to go out and try to talk more sense into "common sense." In other cases this is because people who ought to know better get their jollies by taking advantage of deficiencies in "common sense."

        (Rommunism: a system of government in which all wealth is redistributed evenly among Mitt Romney. Screw the 1%.)

      • The implied metric of the "we are the 99%" is either wealth or income, which is nearly synonymous. This has been painfully clear to anyone that's been paying attention. I'm going to feel dirty for this, but I also have to defend the TEA party. They're only controlled by the oil companies if you look at it through conspiracy glasses and assume that foxnews is controlled by oil men. They have tangential control at best.
        I think you just tacked on "1%" to the end of some stereotypes and thought it was clever.
    • by lacaprup (1652025)
      Can't be, this 1% actually exists and works in concert for concrete goals.
      • If concrete goals = Lolcatz, getting a crowbar for Mafia Wars, and random inspirational posters, then you are correct.

    • by geekmux (1040042) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:17PM (#40211393)

      Is this what Occupy means when they say 1% of the country controls everything?

      Uh, I tend to read this statistic in the other direction. It means 99.2% of people are nothing more than sheep following the flock, which makes sense considering we're basically talking about Farcebook. All other forms of social networking have pretty much been reduced to a moot point.

      • by Baloroth (2370816) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:27PM (#40211521)

        That's not really what this statistic is saying. It is using a "tipping" model, where it assumes anyone who has more than 50% of his friends exhibiting the behavior will automatically adopt it. A useful model, but not actually true (like nearly all mathematical models, it is only approximately true in the real world). That means they only have to find a "seed" population to adopt the trend: the model says if all of them adopt it, everyone on the network will. Think of it less like sheep and more like dominoes: you only need to trigger one dominoe to trigger the rest, but that presumes a carefully constructed ideal system. In reality, 99% of people may be sheep, but this study says absolutely nothing about that. It assumes it, rather than proving it.

        • by Old97 (1341297)
          Very good points and let's add a bit to it. Most of us pick people as friends who have some qualities in common with us and often also some qualities we admire or respect. What those are varies from friend to friend so a given friend can influence is some ways (what we like about them) and not in other ways (what we don't think they do well). So I would think that the 1% we call influencers vary depending on what the topic is. There is no permanent and fixed 1%.
        • by shiftless (410350)

          That means they only have to find a "seed" population to adopt the trend: the model says if all of them adopt it, everyone on the network will.

          The book "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference" covers exactly what this article is talking about. Quite an interesting read.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tipping_Point [wikipedia.org]

      • The real trick is finding the right message that would even be accepted by the original seed set

        Take that "occupy movement" for instance. It doesn't matter if you can retrospectively identify the top influencers of that movement. If you'd need to convince those influencers of something, you'd have to convince them of your message first, which I bet would be much more difficult than to convince regular members of that same network.

        So the next thing you could do is hijack their account and try to transmit you

    • by tomhath (637240)
      It's the other way around; Occupy is trying to be the seed that starts the social cascade. Their problem is twofold though 1) They represent far, far less than the necessary seed size, and 2) Their attempts to initiate tipping incidents don't result in any cascade because the 99% they claim as sympathizers aren't.
      • by Old97 (1341297)
        I think more of the 99% would be sympathizers if Occupy could articulate a clear message instead of emotion. The message is lost in the theater of it all.
      • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@wSLACKWAREorf.net minus distro> on Monday June 04, 2012 @03:32PM (#40212415)

        It's the other way around; Occupy is trying to be the seed that starts the social cascade. Their problem is twofold though 1) They represent far, far less than the necessary seed size, and 2) Their attempts to initiate tipping incidents don't result in any cascade because the 99% they claim as sympathizers aren't.

        That's because they use the wrong targets that end up making them look like unemployed hippies.

        To "tip" a population properly requires people to reaosnably agree with you - if I headed occupy (metaphoically), you can start with something so simple, so basic, yet everyone is powerless to fix.

        An example would be gas - why is it costing just the same as it did before the crash? Oil's down these days (and yes, even though there's about as much relation between gas prices and oil prices as there is between a head of lettuce and oil prices, most people equate oil prices with gas). Tap into that rage and it's much easier to tip.

        Trying to convince people that the rich are ruining our lives and enslaving us is a concept that's much too foreign to most people to comprehend. Use more concrete examples and you'll be more successful. Especially if that example has a deep-rooted emotion attached with it.

        It also applies to everything - take ACTA for example. Talking about copyright law in general gets you blank stares. So talk about its effects - it can make your iPod illegal (think "they're gonna take your iPod away!").

        A concrete example is worth way more to tip someone over in your favor than some wishy-washy concept that no one can relate to. Heck, it can even be seasonal - support for global warming ebbs and flows - it ebbs in the winter and reaches a low in the spring, and flows in the summer. The hotter the summer, the more support grows. The colder the winter, the more support is lost.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          That's because they use the wrong targets that end up making them look like unemployed hippies.

          Dude go see them in person, they are unemployed hippies.

  • How small of a group of people do you need to leave a network to reach a tipping point to cause the social network to collapse. Good to know the answer is 0.8%

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      Yes. That was my thought.

      Get the right 1% of people onto your Facebook competitor and Facebook is done.

  • I suspect I know the name of *one* of the main influencers...

    --dave

  • Look at, well... anything. In any human social activity, there are a few people who drive all the activity, and the rest are happy to follow along.

    Even leadership personalities are followers much of the time. It's not like everyone can be leaders in everything. You can only ever lead in a few small areas. (Though of course, some people lead more than others; while some people lead in nothing at all, I suppose.)

  • Trying to be noticed among a million other offerings, this is good news. After doing my best job writing, I can then try to figure out how to reach my own 1% to tip them toward my work, rather than trying to brute-force popularity.
    • Trying to be noticed among a million other offerings, this is good news. After doing my best job writing, I can then try to figure out how to reach my own 1% to tip them toward my work, rather than trying to brute-force popularity.

      Not sure if he's the first to think of this but I read a book called The Tipping Point [wikipedia.org] that describes three kinds of people: salesmen, mavens and connectors. He speculates this is a small part of the population that the rest of the population actually relies on.

      Some of them you know, like Oprah and her book club. Some of them you might not realize that you have access to like a stay at home mom who talks on the phone or a literature nerd that posts all the time online.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      As an indie author, you will never be able to afford Facebook's fee for delivering your content to your 1%. That's sort of the entire point of modern social networking.

    • by alen (225700)

      easy, publish to amazon kindle, have free books every so often. this way you appear on one of the free kindle book lists that get updated daily and people will check out your work

    • I advise you write a good enough story that the all-masterful 1% will choose to push your work onto their friends and cohorts. I mean, even if you had the name and address of this mystical 1%, what would you do reach them? Take them out to lunch? Give them a free copy? Pay them for a review? How is that not subverting the system which I go to for book suggestions? How anti-social of you. (Well, I can understand giving out free copies to critics, but that's moot with today's piracy and digital distribution.
      • The sales ranking of books at Amazon follows a roughly inverse power-law exponent of 1.1 [http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.physa.2010.02.021]. With about 2 million hard plus kindle books for sale, you can do the math: many books have zero sales or on the order of one or two per year. No matter how brilliantly executed, this is simply not enough exposure to reach the critical number needed to launch it so that a possible audience even becomes aware of its existence. Sort of like the critical initial viral or bac
    • (Slashdot Meta-Meme)
      You are an Indie Author, hmm? Yet you make a post disdaining popularity!?

      So what is your position on Copyright? Post a link to your story, right here, right now. Or else admit that you don't think the Slashdot readership is not 3 steps from your 1% tippers.

      So release a Creative Commons version of your book(s).

      (/Slashdot Meta-Meme)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Does this remind anyone of Locke and Demosthenes from Ender's Game? Seeding a few carefully worded articles to change the discourse of the network?

    • Stop posting anonymously, OSC. Your plan just won't work.

  • Sheeple (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chemisor (97276) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:06PM (#40211247)

    A much more interesting conclusion of this study is that 99.2% of social network users will do anything their friends would tell them to do.

  • by timeOday (582209) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:08PM (#40211269)
    "The trick is finding the seed set." No, you still have to influence the seed set, which might be really hard.

    Let's say this model predicts that I can end terrorism by converting 100 radical muslims to buddhism. How does that help me? (Simply sending in drones to remove these nodes from the graph, so to speak, will not have the same effect).

    Second example, let's say my novel is almost guaranteed to be successful if it gets a glowing review in the New York Times. Well, how hard can that be? Usually trusted nodes are trusted for some reason - because they're reliable. That means they're hard to influence.

    • no, you missed it. the point is that there is a 1% out there that will be influenced by whatever you have in mind, so the trick is finding that 1% who is ready to do your bidding.
    • I think you are misusing "hard." For an example, one of my books has a very minor incident in which a Glock 30 is used. I know an influential writer and reviewer is an enthusiastic 2nd Amendment champion. I send her a crafted blurb mentioning the Glock. bingo. We exchange friendly messages about pistols, she buys the book and is now reviewing it for her multi thousand followers.

      It wasn't hard to influence her; just took a second of reflection and doing what people do socially all the time without thinkin
      • You are missing the OP's point. He is not saying it is hard to influence a member if that group. What makes it hard is that you have to get all of those influencers and you have to do it in such a way that none of them start feeling like you are manipulating them before you have convinced all of them.
  • Sounds like what Aaron Barr was trying to do to reveal the identities of anonymous.
  • I've got news for them: this works in offline social networks too. It just works faster online.

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      I remember reading about a US study during the Cold War which found that if three specific people in the military and government colluded together they could start an unauthorised nuclear war. Fortunately the government ensured that it couldn't 'work' by monitoring those three people to ensure they couldn't collude.

  • by Nethead (1563) <joe@nethead.com> on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:19PM (#40211403) Homepage Journal

    This brings to mind the Connie Willis novel Bellwether [wikipedia.org]

    The main character, Dr. Sandra Foster, studies fads in Boulder, Colorado. Her employer, Hi-Tek, wants to know how to predict fads, in order to take advantage of this knowledge and thus to possibly create one.

    A good read, quite enjoyable and funny.

    • by Daetrin (576516)
      Agreed, i was going to recommend that if someone else hadn't already. I really wish she'd do more relatively light humorous stuff. "Bellwether" and "To Say Nothing of the Dog" are my favorite books by her.
  • by Lord Byron Eee PC (1579911) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:19PM (#40211411)
    "The trick is finding the seed set." No, it's not. The real trick is finding the seed set of the seed set. On Facebook, you have 900 million users. 1% of that is 9 million, which is too large to influence. But 1% of that 1% is just 90,000, something that a targeted advertising campaign might be able to influence.
  • Celebrities (which is a superset of Politician). And yes... a large portion of the population bases their decisions/vote off of what someone says simply because they look good on TV... and before that b/c they sound good on radio... and before that b/c they wrote what they wanted to hear.
  • by sckienle (588934) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:37PM (#40211657)
    I may have the title of this wrong, but it is a well known rule of thumb in social media tech circles that of 100% of users, 90% pretty much just read, 9% post regularly, and only 1% are really active. So they have simply come up with the algorithm to determine that 1%.
  • In marketing these individuals are referred to as people with high SNP (social network potential). They are people who can share one message and sway many. The goal is to get them a message either by paying them or cleverly exposing them to something that they can make go viral. I read about in a book called Digimarketing, which I think came out in 2007.
  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:41PM (#40211709) Homepage

    Online Social Media Networks Inflate Their Numbers by 5000%.

    When only 2% of the registered accounts are active, it's not hard to see that the right 1% can make a big change.

  • Only 1%? But that's an epic fail! though I kinda <3 the fact that social networks* are so much less resilient than cows! With cows, you have to tip each one individually. With people, you knock over one out of 100, and the rest drop on their belly and wriggle. A happy GOOSESTEP FUN TIEM is had by all.

    But I'm a hyprocrite, because I'm a sucker for memes. I thought writing "You know what you doing!!" (the italic exclamation marks mattered more to me than anyone will ever know) was funny years after the all

  • by PeanutButterBreath (1224570) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:53PM (#40211865)

    . . .all anyone needs to know is what it will take to get Kevin Bacon to change from on social network to another.

  • I guess they've never heard of George Takei... he tips The Facebook everyday.

    • by AugstWest (79042)

      I was thinking the same thing.

      "I'll take Takei for the tip."

      Wait, let me rephrase that....

  • by WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) on Monday June 04, 2012 @03:36PM (#40212471)

    Look you can't take claims like this seriously, by which i mean as immutable laws of nature or even as normative of online communities in a longitudinal sense, that is, as an enduring property of online communities.

    From the paper:

    In this problem we have a social network in the form of a directed graph and thresholds for each individual. Based on this data, the desired output is the smallest possible set of individuals such that, if initially activated, the entire population will adopt the new behavior (a seed set)

    What the study shows in not that will happen in real social networks, but rather in their "tipping model" which is a directed graph whose nodes "activate" when they reach a certain threshold.of input given to them by surrounding nodes.

    So what they demonstrated was a property of directed graphs and nodes with a certain made-up (ad hoc) set of characteristics. To assume that those characteristics are descriptive of human beings in a real social network is to extrapolate beyond the results of paper.

    The authors obviously think that such extrapolation may be possible since they cite two other papers that they characterize as showing that real social networks have exhibited such behavior, but actually, those papers show something much more hypothetical and specific which I won't go into here.

    When they say they applied their theory to social networks, (Buzznet Douban Flickr Flixster FourSquare Frienster Last.Fm LiveJournal Livemocha WikiTalk ) they mean they borrowed the physical topology - the interconnectedness of the nodes- of those networks, (which is available to researchers) NOT that they either found examples of nor instigated the real world behaviour of the people in those networks.

    Back to reality, that such things CAN happen is not surprising . I am pretty sure Jennifer Aniston represented less than 1% of the group of American females in the mid 90s, and she wielded the power to tip hairstyles ("The Rachel" hairstyle!!! ) enormously in that time.

    Similarly in Roman times, the hairstyles of prominent individual women would appear on coins, for instance, the Emperor's wife. This would lead to a frenzy of copycat hairstyles because hairstyle was one way the rich signaled their status.

    There's a danger here that graph theory being applied to social networks will play the role of the mythical "perfectly rational actor" has played in economics. That is, a clean model which produces complex results whose ultimate referent is ONLY itself and in many decisive ways emits behaviour which is OPPOSITE of the behaviour of the real world entity which the theory sought to model.

    People are irrational in ways that until recently, with the advent of behavioural economics, were not accounted for in economic models. IMO behavioural economics might as well have taken the name "real economics" . The same thing is going on here. How real people really behave in social networking sites is a wide open question. What we know is people hate to be manipulated and will act against their own seeming best interests in a wide variety of circumstances. See Dan Ariely's "Predictably Irrational" for some examples. Also here's the page on irrationality in Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irrationality [wikipedia.org]

    The point here is

    1) this is not a study of people's behaviour, it's a study of the behaviour of nodes which have just those properties the researchers elected to give them transferred to a network topologies which were taken from a variety of real social networks.

    2) The behaviour of real social networks is not determined by the assumptions of the researchers

    3) nor did those assumptions model the actual behavior of real people in those networks.

    Real behaviour is vastly more complex than emitting behavior when a threshold "input" from surrounding people is reached.

    Finally, it should be noted that p

  • .. some Jamaica, a bit of Colombian and some home grown Sensimilla ... now where is that pizza deliver number....

  • Did they analyze the average Bacon number of those within this tipping 1%? Since we are talking about influential people, perhaps they should have used the Christopher Lee geometric range index as well. Also, I wouldn't call it "a progressive series of 'tipping' incidents" if anything, tipping has been highly regressive for wages in the food service and hospitality industries.

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