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How Memes Spread Online
Jeremy Faludi, 8 May 04


As Laurie Anderson once said, language is a virus. So are ideas. Researchers at HP have been trying to understand how ideas spread through the online blog community, and for those of us who're interested in getting ideas out into the world, it may be instructive. From a Wired article on them:

"What we're finding is that the important people on the Web are not necessarily the people with the most explicit links (back to their sites), but the people who cause epidemics in blog networks," said researcher Eytan Adar. These infectious people can be hard to find because they do not always receive attribution for being the first to point to an interesting idea or news item...

The researchers have incorporated their techniques into a search algorithm they call iRank. Unlike Google's PageRank algorithm, which ranks websites based on overall popularity, the iRank algorithm ranks sites based on how good they are at injecting ideas into the mainstream...

In the meantime, the team has made some of its research available online in the form of the Blog Epidemic Analyzer, a Java program that reveals the implicit and inferred links between blogs in an interactive, visual form. [note, however, it's not live: it only contains data for a 20-day period a year ago.]

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I thought "language is a virus" was originally an idea from William Burroughs or Brion Gysin.

I once got into a flame war for saying maybe money is a virus too.

Posted by: gmoke on 8 May 04

money is a language
and language and viruses do share a lot of similarities

it is a symbolic form of communication

it's value is representational not inherent

Posted by: dzed on 12 May 04



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