Bernardo Huberman: Social Dynamics In The Age Of The Web
Fascinating talk by Bernardo Huberman, Director of the Social Computing Lab at Hewlett-Packard. He presents the results of several scientific studies of how large numbers of users behave on the web.
The results are very interesting and raise questions about the effectiveness of viral marketing; they reveal patterns in e-mail messaging; the half-life of popular stories on Digg (about 70 minutes); the influence of ratings on popularity; changing sentiment in reviews, how public opinion can be manipulated, and much more.
Don't be put off by the date of this talk: January 2008. It remains relevant because the studies are focused on behaviors of large numbers of users at sites such as Amazon, Facebook, and Digg - and haven't changed. They reveal what appear to be fundamental behaviors that could very well be hard-wired into our humanity - or at least our online humanity.
Here is my recent interview with Mr Huberman.