Accelerating dynamics of collective attention

Who's ready for some academic writing! This is a really interesting study that found that content on social media has a much harder time breaking through the noise these days. Further, when it does break through, it doesn't keep our attention as long as it used to.

The gradients of content trajectories become steeper, but their peaks remain relatively stable, causing periods of individual popularity to become shorter. Our modeling suggests that shorter attention cycles are mainly driven by increasing information flows, represented as content production and consumption rates. As influx increases, individual topics are adopted more rapidly, leading to steeper rises in collective attention with the self-inhibitory effects of saturation resulting in an equally steepening downfall. Thus, in our modeling framework, producing and consuming more content results in shortening of attention spans for individual topics and higher turnover rates between popular cultural items. In other words, the ever-present competition for recency and the abundance of information leads to the squeezing of more topics in the same time intervals as the result of limitations of the available collective attention


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