Popularity, Novelty and Attention

Wu, Fang
Huberman, Bernardo A.
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We analyze the role that popularity and novelty play in attracting the attention of users to dynamic websites. We do so by determining the performance of three different strategies that can be utilized to maximize attention. The first one prioritizes novelty while the second emphasizes popularity. A third strategy looks myopically into the future and prioritizes stories that are expected to generate the most clicks within the next few minutes. We show that the first two strategies should be selected on the basis of the rate of novelty decay, while the third strategy performs sub-optimally in most cases. We also demonstrate that the relative performance of the first two strategies as a function of the rate of novelty decay changes abruptly around a critical value, resembling a phase transition in the physical world. 1
Computer Science - Computers and Society, H.1.2, H.5.2, K.4