Is Justin Timberlake a Product of Cumulative Advantage?
April 21, 2007 4:59 PM Subscribe
In a parallel universe Your Favorite Band Really Does Suck! Duncan Watts and others conducted a Web-based experiment [PDF] called Music Lab. Their findings: "while talent might distinguish good from bad, social pressure and pure dumb luck are also big influences on which bands gain the most fame." "Calling the [experiment] 'pathbreaking,' sociologist Michael Macy of Cornell University says the findings illustrate how a small advantage can snowball, making popularity hard to predict. Economist Robert Frank, also at Cornell, says the work shows 'we're all susceptible to the herd mentality.'" The effect of "cumulative advantage" has impact on the popularity of other aspects of contemporary culture: books, films, websites and more.
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