Social Science

Moving from one novelty to the next

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Science  29 Aug 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6200, pp. 1017
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6200.1017-f

Life would be boring if things were always the same. Tria and colleagues explore whether novelties—discoveries of things new to us—are independent of each other or whether one novelty leads to another. They analyzed selected text, online music, Wikipedia, and a social tagging site and measured how the number of different elements grew with time. Although two of the data sets contained innovations (items new to everyone) and two contained novelties (items new to individual users), they all showed the same kinetics and probability distributions. Modeling analyses suggested that novelties are not independent of each other. As the authors state, each novelty “comes with a cloud of other potentially new ideas that are thematically adjacent to it and hence can be triggered by it.”

Sci. Rep. 10.1038/srep05890 (2014).

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