Requests are at the core of many social media systems such as question & answer sites and online philanthropy communities. While the success of such requests is critical to the success of the community, the factors that lead community members to satisfy a request are largely unknown. Success of a request depends on factors like who is asking, how they are asking, when are they asking, and most critically what is being requested, ranging from small favors to substantial monetary donations. We present a case study of altruistic requests in an online community where all requests ask for the very same contribution and do not offer anything tangible in return, allowing us to disentangle what is requested from textual and social factors. Drawing from social psychology literature, we extract high-level social features from text that operationalize social relations between recipient and donor and demonstrate that these extracted relations are predictive of success. More specifically, we find that clearly communicating need through the narrative is essential and that that linguistic indications of gratitude, evidentiality, and generalized reciprocity, as well as high status of the asker further increase the likelihood of success. Building on this understanding, we develop a model that can predict the success of unseen requests, significantly improving over several baselines. We link these findings to research in psychology on helping behavior, providing a basis for further analysis of success in social media systems.
How to Ask for a Favor: A Case Study on the Success of Altruistic Requests Tim Althoff, Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, Dan Jurafsky
Centrality measures such as the degree, k-shell, or eigenvalue centrality can identify a network's most influential nodes, but are rarely usefully accurate in quantifying the spreading power of the vast majority of nodes which are not highly influential. The spreading power of all network nodes is better explained by considering, from a continuous-time epidemiological perspective, the distribution of the force of infection each node generates. The resulting metric, the expected force, accurately quantifies node spreading power under all primary epidemiological models across a wide range of archetypical human contact networks. When node power is low, influence is a function of neighbor degree. As power increases, a node's own degree becomes more important. The strength of this relationship is modulated by network structure, being more pronounced in narrow, dense networks typical of social networking and weakening in broader, looser association networks such as the Internet. The expected force can be computed independently for individual nodes, making it applicable for networks whose adjacency matrix is dynamic, not well specified, or overwhelmingly large.
"Understanding the spreading power of all nodes in a network: a continuous-time perspective" Glenn Lawyer
We consider the effects of social learning on the individual learning and genetic evolution of a colony of artificial agents capable of genetic, individual and social modes of adaptation. We confirm that there is strong selection pressure to acquire traits of individual learning and social learning when these are adaptive traits. We show that selection pressure for learning of either kind can supress selection pressure for reproduction or greater fitness. We show that social learning differs from individual learning in that it can support a second evolutionary system that is decoupled from the biological evolutionary system. This decoupling leads to an emergent interaction where immature agents are more likely to engage in learning activities than mature agents.
The Effect of Social Learning on Individual Learning and Evolution Chris Marriott, Jobran Chebib
We examine individuals' abilities to identify the highly central people in their social networks, where centrality is defined by diffusion centrality (Banerjee et al., 2013), which characterizes a node's influence in spreading information. We first show that diffusion centrality nests standard centrality measures -- degree, eigenvector and Katz-Bonacich centrality -- as extreme special cases. Next, we show that boundedly rational individuals can, simply by tracking sources of gossip, identify who is central in their social network in the specific sense of having high diffusion centrality. Finally, we examine whether the model's predictions are consistent with data in which we ask people in each of 35 villages whom would be the most effective point from which to initiate a diffusion process. We find that individuals accurately nominate central individuals in the diffusion centrality sense. Additionally, the nominated individuals are more central in the network than "village leaders" as well as those who are most central in a GPS sense. This suggests that individuals can rank others according to their centrality in the networks even without knowing the network, and that eliciting network centrality of others simply by asking individuals may be an inexpensive research and policy tool.
Gossip: Identifying Central Individuals in a Social Network Abhijit Banerjee, Arun G. Chandrasekhar, Esther Duflo, Matthew O. Jackson
Power grids, road maps, and river streams are examples of infrastructural networks which are highly vulnerable to external perturbations. An abrupt local change of load (voltage, traffic density, or water level) might propagate in a cascading way and affect a significant fraction of the network. Almost discontinuous perturbations can be modeled by shock waves which can eventually interfere constructively and endanger the normal functionality of the infrastructure. We study their dynamics by solving the Burgers equation under random perturbations on several real and artificial directed graphs. Even for graphs with a narrow distribution of node properties (e.g., degree or betweenness), a steady state is reached exhibiting a heterogeneous load distribution, having a difference of one order of magnitude between the highest and average loads. Unexpectedly we find for the European power grid and for finite Watts-Strogatz networks a broad pronounced bimodal distribution for the loads. To identify the most vulnerable nodes, we introduce the concept of node-basin size, a purely topological property which we show to be strongly correlated to the average load of a node.
Shock waves on complex networks • Enys Mones, Nuno A. M. Araújo, Tamás Vicsek & Hans J. Herrmann
An understanding of how individuals shape and impact the evolution of society is vastly limited due to the unavailability of large-scale reliable datasets that can simultaneously capture information regarding individual movements and social interactions. We believe that the popular Indian film industry, “Bollywood”, can provide a social network apt for such a study. Bollywood provides massive amounts of real, unbiased data that spans more than 100 years, and hence this network has been used as a model for the present paper. The nodes which maintain a moderate degree or widely cooperate with the other nodes of the network tend to be more fit (measured as the success of the node in the industry) in comparison to the other nodes. The analysis carried forth in the current work, using a conjoined framework of complex network theory and random matrix theory, aims to quantify the elements that determine the fitness of an individual node and the factors that contribute to the robustness of a network. The authors of this paper believe that the method of study used in the current paper can be extended to study various other industries and organizations.
Invention has been commonly conceptualized as a search over a space of combinatorial possibilities. Despite the existence of a rich literature, spanning a variety of disciplines, elaborating on the recombinant nature of invention, we lack a formal and quantitative characterization of the combinatorial process underpinning inventive activity. Here we utilize U.S. patent records dating from 1790 to 2010 to formally characterize the invention as a combinatorial process. To do this we treat patented inventions as carriers of technologies and avail ourselves of the elaborate system of technology codes used by the U.S. Patent Office to classify the technologies responsible for an invention's novelty. We find that the combinatorial inventive process exhibits an invariant rate of "exploitation" (refinements of existing combinations of technologies) and "exploration" (the development of new technological combinations). This combinatorial dynamic contrasts sharply with the creation of new technological capabilities -- the building blocks to be combined -- which has significantly slowed down. We also find that notwithstanding the very reduced rate at which new technologies are introduced, the generation of novel technological combinations engenders a practically infinite space of technological configurations.
Invention as a Combinatorial Process: Evidence from U.S. Patents Hyejin Youn, Luis M. A. Bettencourt, Deborah Strumsky, Jose Lobo
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