The wide adoption of social media has increased the competition among ideas for our finite attention. We employ a parsimonious agent-based model to study whether such a competition may affect the popularity of different memes, the diversity of information we are exposed to, and the fading of our collective interests for specific topics. Agents share messages on a social network but can only pay attention to a portion of the information they receive. In the emerging dynamics of information diffusion, a few memes go viral while most do not. The predictions of our model are consistent with empirical data from Twitter, a popular microblogging platform. Surprisingly, we can explain the massive heterogeneity in the popularity and persistence of memes as deriving from a combination of the competition for our limited attention and the structure of the social network, without the need to assume different intrinsic values among ideas.
The possibility to analyze everyday monetary transactions is limited by the scarcity of available data, as this kind of information is usually considered highly sensitive. Present econophysics models are usually employed on presumed random networks of interacting agents, and only some macroscopic properties (e.g. the resulting wealth distribution) are compared to real-world data. In this paper, we analyze Bitcoin, which is a novel digital currency system, where the complete list of transactions is publicly available. Using this dataset, we reconstruct the network of transactions and extract the time and amount of each payment. We analyze the structure of the transaction network by measuring network characteristics over time, such as the degree distribution, degree correlations and clustering. We find that linear preferential attachment drives the growth of the network. We also study the dynamics taking place on the transaction network, i.e. the flow of money. We measure temporal patterns and the wealth accumulation. Investigating the microscopic statistics of money movement, we find that sublinear preferential attachment governs the evolution of the wealth distribution. We report a scaling law between the degree and wealth associated to individual nodes.
In most social and information systems the activity of agents generates rapidly evolving time-varying networks. The temporal variation in networks' connectivity patterns and the ongoing dynamic processes are usually coupled in ways that still challenge our mathematical or computational modelling. Here we analyse a mobile call dataset and find a simple statistical law that characterize the temporal evolution of users' egocentric networks. We encode this observation in a reinforcement process defining a time-varying network model that exhibits the emergence of strong and weak ties. We study the effect of time-varying and heterogeneous interactions on the classic rumour spreading model in both synthetic, and real-world networks. We observe that strong ties severely inhibit information diffusion by confining the spreading process among agents with recurrent communication patterns. This provides the counterintuitive evidence that strong ties may have a negative role in the spreading of information across networks.
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Self-organization is thought to play an important role in structuring nervous systems. It frequently arises as a consequence of plasticity mechanisms in neural networks: connectivity determines network dynamics which in turn feed back on network structure through various forms of plasticity. Recently, self-organizing recurrent neural network models (SORNs) have been shown to learn non-trivial structure in their inputs and to reproduce the experimentally observed statistics and fluctuations of synaptic connection strengths in cortex and hippocampus. However, the dynamics in these networks and how they change with network evolution are still poorly understood. Here we investigate the degree of chaos in SORNs by studying how the networks' self-organization changes their response to small perturbations. We study the effect of perturbations to the excitatory-to-excitatory weight matrix on connection strengths and on unit activities. We find that the network dynamics, characterized by an estimate of the maximum Lyapunov exponent, becomes less chaotic during its self-organization, developing into a regime where only few perturbations become amplified. We also find that due to the mixing of discrete and (quasi-)continuous variables in SORNs, small perturbations to the synaptic weights may become amplified only after a substantial delay, a phenomenon we propose to call deferred chaos.
What makes a meme— an idea, a phrase, an image—go viral? For starters, the meme must have broad appeal, so it can spread not just within communities of like-minded individuals but can leap from one community to the next. Researchers, by mining public Twitter data, have found that a meme's “virality” is often evident from the start. After only a few dozen tweets, a typical viral meme (as defined by tweets using a given hashtag) will already have caught on in numerous communities of Twitter users. In contrast, a meme destined to peter out will resonate in fewer groups.