From coincidence to purposeful flow? properties of transcendental information cascades

In International Conference on Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining (ASONAM) 2015 (2015)
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In this paper, we investigate a method for constructing cascades of information co-occurrence, which is suitable to trace emergent structures in information in scenarios where rich contextual features are unavailable. Our method relies only on the temporal order of content-sharing activities, and intrinsic properties of the shared content itself. We apply this method to analyse information dissemination patterns across the active online citizen science project Planet Hunters, a part of the Zooniverse platform. Our results lend insight into both structural and informational properties of different types of identifiers that can be used and combined to construct cascades. In particular, significant differences are found in the structural properties of information cascades when hashtags as used as cascade identifiers, compared with other content features. We also explain apparent local information losses in cascades in terms of information obsolescence and cascade divergence; e.g., when a cascade branches into multiple, divergent cascades with combined capacity equal to the original.
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