News on blogs spreads ‘just like earthquakes’

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

LONDON - A new study has found that the manner in which news spreads through online blogs is very similar to the statistical behaviour of earthquakes.

Researchers at Medical University of Vienna, Austria, scanned posts on 168 US political blogs between 1 July 2008 and 3 May 2010 to compile a list of around 4000 commonly occurring words.

Peter Klimek and colleagues found that there are two types of word event - the first (endogenous) is when use of a word builds up over time till it peaks and then goes down, and the second (endogenous) is when a word explodes on to the blogosphere, quickly reaching a peak and then slowly dying away.

Both events share statistical properties with earthquakes, reports New Scientist.

The distribution of earthquakes is described by the Gutenberg-Richter law.

The researchers found exogenous events are more similar to this distribution, and endogenous events are somewhat similar.

They also found that peak word occurrences have aftershocks and foreshocks that follow the pattern laid down by a seismological rule known as Omori’s law.

Klimek and his colleagues believe that these similarities are indicative of a “‘Richter scale’ for media events” that measures their effect on the blogosphere and wider world. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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