Ideas and information diffused in social media compete like human beings compete to survive. The “nutrition” that ideas need in order to survive is clearly the attention they receive from users, and the competition is based on this limited resource.
The rules of the game are clear, but it’s not so easy to understand the schemes and strategies that determine their survival or extinction: a limited amount of ideas are disseminated extensively and in-depth, while most of them just don’t make it. A further step to understand this process can be found in a study published by the magazine Nature Scientific Reports by a team of Italian and American researchers.
The abstract statistic model that was used did not take into account the “weight” of ideas, that is, their intrinsic value.
The findings are amazing: despite this basic difference, the model describes quite adequately the empirical data gathered from Twitter. In other words, the processes that can be seen on social networks can be explained regardless of how worthy the ideas are and of what users are interested in, only taking into account the structure of the network and the binding limits (that is, the limited attention that is available). That is, the weight and appeal of an idea count but are not essential.
The findings of the study pave the road to further research, but its authors believe that they already suggest that many concepts and schemes used up to now to describe competition between ideas need to be renewed.