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Computer Science - Science Policy

Quantifying Social Influence in an Online Cultural Market
Published: Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Author: Coco Krumme et al.

by Coco Krumme, Manuel Cebrian, Galen Pickard, Sandy Pentland

We revisit experimental data from an online cultural market in which 14,000 users interact to download songs, and develop a simple model that can explain seemingly complex outcomes. Our results suggest that individual behavior is characterized by a two-step process–the decision to sample and the decision to download a song. Contrary to conventional wisdom, social influence is material to the first step only. The model also identifies the role of placement in mediating social signals, and suggests that in this market with anonymous feedback cues, social influence serves an informational rather than normative role.