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Not sure if anyone has been following Duncan Watts critique of Gladwell's influencer "hypothesis":
Is the Tipping Point Toast?
It's just that Watts' argued in a recent article (Challenging the Influentials Hypothesis) that advances in online technologies—tracking blog postings (MarketSentinel, Onalytical and ImmediateFuture 2005; Niederhoffer, Mooth and Wiesenfeld 2007), or product referrals (Leskovec, Adamic and Huberman 2007) for example—show some promise for replacing survey-based respondent driven data with more objective, observational methods ... as far as identifying influence.
I just wondered if anyone knew of any research relating to online 'citation analysis' or other network analysis (e.g. improbable word analysis) for identifying who actually influences whom online, or even simply who communicates with whom and sits at the centre of "the conversation".
Obviously, I accept Watts' following logic:
"Until it is possible to integrate the observation of interpersonal communication regarding some particular topic with observations
regarding (a) other potential sources of influence (news media, traditional advertising, independent research, personal experience etc.), and (b) subsequent consumer attitudes, beliefs, or behavior, empirical methods for measuring influence, and thereby identifying influentials, will be at best crude approximations, and at worst confusing and misleading representations of
However, from a pragmatic point of view I wonder if there are means or even tools for looking at online connectivity around a topic, that still have some utility in terms of the identify the network structure of that topic that still have some utility even if they empirically can't show who is influencing who. Take climate change for example.
Any pointers would be much appreciated.
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