(a), Time series of traffic. The grey lines represent the daily traffic to articles that are linked from/to the article “2012 Summer Olympics,” according to a recent snapshot of Wikipedia (see Methods). For visualization purposes, only a random sample of 100 neighbors is shown. The focal page is represented by the black solid line; red and gold lines represent the average and median traffic, respectively. The vertical black segments represent the times when new linked articles are created (see Methods). (b), Network of neighbors of “2012 Summer Olympics.” White nodes represent the neighbor articles predating 2012; colored nodes correspond to neighbors created in 2012. The size of the nodes is proportional to their yearly traffic volume; their position was computed using the ARF layout32. (c and d), Same visualizations as (a) and (b) for the entry about Hurricane Sandy and its neighbors. New articles tend to be peripheral to these networks.

The Production of Information in the Attention Economy


Online traces of human activity offer novel opportunities to study the dynamics of complex knowledge exchange networks, in particular how emergent patterns of collective attention determine what new information is generated and consumed. Can we measure the relationship between demand and supply for new information about a topic? We propose a normalization method to compare attention bursts statistics across topics with heterogeneous distribution of attention. Through analysis of a massive dataset on traffic to Wikipedia, we find that the production of new knowledge is associated to significant shifts of collective attention, which we take as proxy for its demand. This is consistent with a scenario in which allocation of attention toward a topic stimulates the demand for information about it, and in turn the supply of further novel information. However, attention spikes only for a limited time span, during which new content has higher chances of receiving traffic, compared to content created later or earlier on. Our attempt to quantify demand and supply of information, and our finding about their temporal ordering, may lead to the development of the fundamental laws of the attention economy, and to a better understanding of social exchange of knowledge information networks.

Scientific Reports 5, (2015) p. 9452


  Title                    = {The production of information in the attention economy},
  Author                   = {Ciampaglia, Giovanni Luca and Flammini, Alessandro and Menczer, Filippo},
  Journal                  = {Scientific Reports},
  Year                     = {2015},
  Pages                    = {9452},
  Volume                   = {5},

  Doi                      = {10.1038/srep09452}