Selective Amplification

Henry Jenkin’s article on Harvard’s Web Ecology project just blew me out of my chair. The study charts the Twitter activity related to Michael Jackson’s death, how people reported to each other, how fast, etc. You should check out the graph behind that link, 471 thousand people tweeted about his death over a four hour period (1.8M over 10 days). By the way, this was the same event that fooled Google as a spam event, so they blocked all requests.

Beyond the volume of people tweeting around MJ’s death, there is this graph that compares the Iran controversy to MJ, which is far more interesting to me. Roughly the same number of tweet over a 10 day period, distributed over a different area. You can see the difference between breaking news and a complex conversation, which os pretty cool. All this from 140 characters across millions of people…that just blows my mind.

1 comment

  1. Hey Colin, this is super-interesting, thanks for pointing out the article.

    The idea of a surging trend vs a slowly building trend should inform on how twitter does its own ‘trending topics’ selection right now, and could be the basis of another service that analyses trends. I can imagine twitter is only looking at the surge in topics at this moment, vs the long tail trend which has a lot of chatter over a longer period of time.

    Another measure would be to look at the entropy of tweets. A measure of the amount of original tweets vs re-tweets. Iran probably has higher entropy than MJ – an indicator of a higher level of conversation.
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy_%28information_theory%29)

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