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APS » Journals » Phys. Rev. Lett. » Volume 105 » Issue 15

Phys. Rev. Lett. 105, 158701 (2010) [4 pages]
Characterizing and Modeling the Dynamics of Online Popularity

Jacob Ratkiewicz1, Santo Fortunato2, Alessandro Flammini1, Filippo Menczer1,2, and Alessandro Vespignani1,2
1School of Informatics and Computing, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47406, USA
2Complex Networks and Systems Lagrange Lab, Institute for Scientific Interchange, Torino, Italy
 Received 15 May 2010; revised 18 July 2010; published 8 October 2010
Online popularity has an enormous impact on opinions, culture, policy, and profits. We provide a quantitative, large scale, temporal analysis of the dynamics of online content popularity in two massive model systems: the Wikipedia and an entire country’s Web space. We find that the dynamics of popularity are characterized by bursts, displaying characteristic features of critical systems such as fat-tailed distributions of magnitude and interevent time. We propose a minimal model combining the classic preferential popularity increase mechanism with the occurrence of random popularity shifts due to exogenous factors. The model recovers the critical features observed in the empirical analysis of the systems analyzed here, highlighting the key factors needed in the description of popularity dynamics.
© 2010 The American Physical Society
DOI:    10.1103/PhysRevLett.105.158701
PACS:     89.75.Hc, 89.20.-a