Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Is Justin Timberlake a Product of Cumulative Advantage? Whatever That Is.

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2007 at 4:00 AM

In a treatise last week on predicting cultural successes, The New York Times Sunday Magazine asked the ever-relevant question: “Is Justin Timberlake a Product of Cumulative Advantage?”

Theoretically, you see, cultural producers could see what was successful in the past and use that popular formula to craft other successes. But it doesn’t quite work that way. Think about all the next big things that flopped or the surprise sleeper hits.

Based on research with collaborators Matthew Salganik and Peter Dodds, Columbia university professor Duncan Watts says that social influence — that is, knowing what other people are watching or listening to — makes successes bigger, but it also makes them more unpredictable.

Add in a little bit of peer pressure, a pinch of mob mentality, some butterfly effect and an idea similar to “the rich get richer,” and that is why Justin is being called the new “king of pop.”

Don't believe us? Read it all.


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