Algorithm Identifies Top Ten Technology News Trend Setters
One of the interesting features of modern news coverage is the way that stories spread across the web. Many research teams have attempted to model this process, likening it among other things, to the spread of flu, fashions and forest fires.
One of the fundamental insights that these studies have produced is why these phenomenon spread in similar ways. These phenomenon do not share similar physical properties—a flu virus is not much like a burning leaf or a designer dress.
What these things have in common is the networks on which they spread. It is their environment and the way it is linked together that determines how these events cascade.
The fundamental insight here is that the network of links between trees is similar to the network of contacts between people and the network of links between websites. Because of this, the properties of one network can reasonably be assumed to apply to the others.
Today, Felix Biessmann at the Berlin Institute of Technology in Germany and a few pals study the problem of trend setting among news sites. The question they attempt to answer is which websites lead the news coverage and which ones merely follow.
Their approach is essentially to take a snapshot of the words generated by a group of websites at any instant in time and compare it to the words generated by one of these websites at an earlier time.
This allows them to calculate whether the content of this single website is a good predictor of future content on other websites. In other words, whether it is a trend setter. They then rank the websites according to this metric.