Patterns of Temporal Variation in Online Media
published: Aug. 9, 2011, recorded: February 2011, views: 5722
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Online content exhibits rich temporal dynamics, and diverse realtime user generated content further intensifies this process. However, temporal patterns by which online content grows and fades over time, and by which different pieces of content compete for attention remain largely unexplored. We study temporal patterns associated with online content and how the content’s popularity grows and fades over time. The attention that content receives on the Web varies depending on many factors and occurs on very different time scales and at different resolutions. In order to uncover the temporal dynamics of online content we formulate a time series clustering problem using a similarity metric that is invariant to scaling and shifting. We develop the K-Spectral Centroid (K-SC) clustering algorithm that effectively finds cluster centroids with our similarity measure. By applying an adaptive wavelet-based incremental approach to clustering, we scale K-SC to large data sets. We demonstrate our approach on two massive datasets: a set of 580 million Tweets, and a set of 170 million blog posts and news media articles. We find that K-SC outperforms the K-means clustering algorithm in finding distinct shapes of time series. Our analysis shows that there are six main temporal shapes of attention of online content. We also present a simple model that reliably predicts the shape of attention by using information about only a small number of participants. Our analyses offer insight into common temporal patterns of the content on theWeb and broaden the understanding of the dynamics of human attention.
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