Accelerating dynamics of collective attention

Philipp Lorenz-Spreen, Bjarke Mørch Mønsted, Philipp Hoevel, Sune Lehmann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

With news pushed to smart phones in real time and social media reactions spreading across the globe in seconds, the public discussion can appear accelerated and temporally fragmented. In longitudinal datasets across various domains, covering multiple decades, we find increasing gradients and shortened periods in the trajectories of how cultural items receive collective attention. Is this the inevitable conclusion of the way information is disseminated and consumed? Our findings support this hypothesis. Using a simple mathematical model of topics competing for finite collective attention, we are able to explain the empirical data remarkably well. Our modeling suggests that the accelerating ups and downs of popular content are driven by increasing production and consumption of content, resulting in a more rapid exhaustion of limited attention resources. In the interplay with competition for novelty, this causes growing turnover rates and individual topics receiving shorter intervals of collective attention.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1759
JournalNature Communications
Volume10
Number of pages9
ISSN2041-1723
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Cite this

Lorenz-Spreen, Philipp ; Mønsted, Bjarke Mørch ; Hoevel, Philipp ; Lehmann, Sune. / Accelerating dynamics of collective attention. In: Nature Communications. 2019 ; Vol. 10.
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Accelerating dynamics of collective attention. / Lorenz-Spreen, Philipp; Mønsted, Bjarke Mørch; Hoevel, Philipp; Lehmann, Sune.

In: Nature Communications, Vol. 10, 1759, 2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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