the cultural market place

From: William Benzon (
Date: Thu 16 Feb 2006 - 18:29:35 GMT

  • Next message: Jerry Bryson: "Re: the cultural market place"

    I've listed two articles from the current issue of *Science* regarding an experiment conducted on an artificial cultural marketplace. One reports the experiment, the other comments on it.

    Bill B

    * * * * *

    Science 10 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5762, pp. 786 - 787 DOI: 10.1126/science.1124707


    Experimental Macro Sociology: Predicting the Next Best Seller Peter Hedström

    A popular book, movie, or song can generate millions of dollars. But the social process that creates a blockbuster makes it difficult to predict which ones will succeed.

    The author is at Nuffield College, University of Oxford, New Road, Oxford OX1 1NF, UK. E-mail: peter.

    * * * * *

    Experimental Study of Inequality and Unpredictability in an Artificial Cultural Market

    Science 10 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5762, pp. 854 - 856 DOI: 10.1126/science.1121066

    Matthew J. Salganik,1,2* Peter Sheridan Dodds,2* Duncan J. Watts1,2,3*

    Hit songs, books, and movies are many times more successful than average, suggesting that "the best" alternatives are qualitatively different from
    "the rest"; yet experts routinely fail to predict which products will succeed. We investigated this paradox experimentally, by creating an artificial "music market" in which 14,341 participants downloaded previously unknown songs either with or without knowledge of previous participants' choices. Increasing the strength of social influence increased both inequality and unpredictability of success. Success was also only partly determined by quality: The best songs rarely did poorly, and the worst rarely did well, but any other result was possible.

    1 Department of Sociology, 413 Fayerweather Hall, Columbia University, New York, NY, 10027, USA. 2 Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, Columbia University, 420 West 118th Street, 8th Floor, New York, NY, 10027, USA. 3 Santa Fe Institute, 1399 Hyde Park Road, Santa Fe, NM, 87501, USA.

    * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail:
    (M.J.S.); (P.S.D.); (D.J.W.)

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