Duncan Watts on the results of a

posted by Jason Kottke Apr 14, 2007

Duncan Watts on the results of a study which show that a cultural product's popularity is partially determined by inital social adoption patterns. "This means that if one object happens to be slightly more popular than another at just the right point, it will tend to become more popular still. As a result, even tiny, random fluctuations can blow up, generating potentially enormous long-run differences among even indistinguishable competitors — a phenomenon that is similar in some ways to the famous 'butterfly effect' from chaos theory." The effort to explain why popular things got popular is probably impossible...working your way back from effect to cause in non-linear systems is tough.