Regular Article - Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
Charting closed-loop collective cultural decisions: from book best sellers and music downloads to Twitter hashtags and Reddit comments
Institute for Theoretical Physics, Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany
2 Department of Physics, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Accepted: 24 July 2021
Published online: 4 August 2021
Charts are used to measure relative success for a large variety of cultural items. Traditional music charts have been shown to follow self-organizing principles with regard to the distribution of item lifetimes, the on-chart residence times. Here we examine if this observation holds also for (a) music streaming charts (b) book best-seller lists and (c) for social network activity charts, such as Twitter hashtags and the number of comments Reddit postings receive. We find that charts based on the active production of items, like commenting, are more likely to be influenced by external factors, in particular by the 24 h day–night cycle. External factors are less important for consumption-based charts (sales, downloads), which can be explained by a generic theory of decision-making. In this view, humans aim to optimize the information content of the internal representation of the outside world, which is logarithmically compressed. Further support for information maximization is argued to arise from the comparison of hourly, daily and weekly charts, which allow to gauge the importance of decision times with respect to the chart compilation period.
© The Author(s) 2021
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