Recently I was asked to explain how we could tell Real Events in Social Media from Viral Events produced by one or two individuals which Â spread online. Â Was theÂ Netflix Outrage a facade or not? Â In this regard I can provide someÂ guidance.
Referring back to a post titled Â Some Trending Topics are More Equal Than others appearing at GigaOM last weekend, the author, a computer scientist namedÂ Mor Naaman, said there are essentially two types of trending topics on Twitter (Twitter is much easier for scientists to analyze and test computer algorithms with, Â as the data is mostly public and easy to access, mostly not the case for Facebook, LinkedIn, at el).
EndogenousÂ TrendingÂ Topics occur when a topic has viral spread. Once it becomes a Trending Topic, everyone jumps onto it to spread it even further. For example, Â aÂ hash tagÂ such asÂ #intenyears is not likely to happen naturally, the information was spread through the efforts of one or two people, andÂ re-tweetedÂ by many others.
Exogenous Trending Topics happen when people talk about the same thing at the same time, but are not responding to each other, Â instead Â responding to a cultural moment. This often happens when there are major new events, or TV shows that are broadcasting something of great interest such as the SummerÂ OlympicsÂ .
The author of the article Â investigated which Â trending topics could be captured in Twitter, Â along with the most important dimensions by which the trends can be characterized, and key distinguishing features of the Â topics that can be automatically categorized based on a description of the two types of topics byÂ Danah Boyd:
Danah suggested Exogenous Trending Topics, such as a natural event , are in some sense superior, and more important than Endogenous Topics, like #intenyearsÂ Â because they are happening naturally, and are not the result of any direct or indirect manipulation.
My position is, Â neither type of trending topicsÂ is superior, yet Exogenous Trending Topics do appear to me to be more “genuine” as they have no “ulterior purpose”, and Â exist by the virtue themselves – sorta like God, who said to Moses on MT. Sinai as a burning bush,Â “I AM THAT I AM”.
According toÂ Mor Naaman the tweet above from @waxpancake shown above typifiesÂ “trending topics, geographies, and exogenous/endogenous events“, but it’s not clear to me that #rain is being referred to as an Exogenous event, due to the reference to rain, Â or a Edogenous trending topic, due to the reference toÂ Â Justin Bieber, who clearly has some peopleÂ proppingÂ up his enormous following.
Or maybe it’s for the reader to decide what meaning #rain has. Â Mor Norman already answered what he thinks the answer is, via a combination computer algorithms:
So, if we were in Portland withÂ @waxpancake, our system could perhaps show thatÂ #rain is *not* a â€śJustin Beiberâ€ť because unlike most tweets about the young pop star, rain tweets and trending topics will correspond to a real-world occurrence (note to Bieber fans: I am not saying he is not real, but I guess this depends how you define â€śrealâ€ť).
What do you think?