Data from social media are providing unprecedented opportunities to investigate the processes that rule the dynamics of collective social phenomena. Here, we consider an information theoretical approach to define and measure the temporal and structural signatures typical of collective social events as they arise and gain prominence. We use the symbolic transfer entropy analysis of micro-blogging time series to extract directed networks of influence among geolocalized sub-units in social systems. This methodology captures the emergence of system-level dynamics close to the onset of socially relevant collective phenomena. The framework is validated against a detailed empirical analysis of five case studies. In particular, we identify a change in the characteristic time-scale of the information transfer that flags the onset of information-driven collective phenomena. Furthermore, our approach identifies an order-disorder transition in the directed network of influence between social sub-units. In the absence of a clear exogenous driving, social collective phenomena can be represented as endogenously-driven structural transitions of the information transfer network. This study provides results that can help define models and predictive algorithms for the analysis of societal events based on open source data.
The dynamic of information-driven coordination phenomena: a transfer entropy analysis Javier Borge-Holthoefer, Nicola Perra, Bruno Gonçalves, Sandra González-Bailón, Alex Arenas, Yamir Moreno, Alessandro Vespignani
Metaphor is not the sole preserve of Shakespearean scholarship or high literary endeavour but has governed how we think about and describe our daily lives for centuries, according to researchers at Glasgow University.
Experts have now created the world’s first online Metaphor Map, which contains more than 14,000 metaphorical connections sourced from 4m pieces of lexical data, some of which date back to 700AD.
While it is impossible to pinpoint the oldest use of metaphor in English, because some may have been adopted from earlier languages such as Germanic, the map reveals that the still popular link between sheep and timidity dates back to Old English. Likewise, we do not always recognise modern use of metaphor: for example, the word “comprehend” comes from Latin, where it meant to physically grasp an object.
The three-year-long project to map the use of metaphor across the entire history of the English language, undertaken by researchers at the School of Critical Studies, was based on data contained in the Historical Thesaurus of English, which spans 13 centuries.
Dr Wendy Anderson, the project’s principal investigator, said that the findings supported the view that metaphor is pervasive in language and is also a major mechanism of meaning-change.
Just because we may be allocating our attention differently as a function of the technologies we may be using, it doesn’t mean that the way our attention actually can function has changed,” Morton told the Ottawa Citizen. “Digital technologies dovetail seamlessly into the information processing abilities of our brain.”
The study further reveals that the rate at which humans now process information is faster than before handheld technology took hold of everyday life. Among the top four factors that impact attentions spans the most are media consumption, social media usage, technology adoption rates and multi-screening behaviors.
With regard to these factors, the study found that attention spans vary according to how one consumes media and at which rate they adopt to using it.
For example, those who adopt to social media the quickest are able to process information from interactive environments (TV) better than people who adopt to social media at a slower pace. Reversely, the so-called “late adopters” of social media tend to process information faster in non-interactive environments (not TV).
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