Your two weeks of fame and your grandmother’s

WWW 2012
Your two weeks of fame and your grandmother’s
James Cook, Atish Das Sarma, Alex Fabrikant, Andrew Tomkins

Did celebrity last longer in 1929, 1992 or 2009? We investigate the phenomenon of fame by mining a collection of news articles that spans the twentieth century, and also perform a side study on a collection of blog posts from the last 10 years.

By analyzing mentions of personal names, we measure each person's time in the spotlight, and watch the distribution change from a century ago to a year ago. We expected to find a trend of decreasing durations of fame as news cycles accelerated and attention spans became shorter.

Instead, we find a remarkable consistency through most of the period we study. Through a century of rapid technological and societal change, through the appearance of Twitter, communication satellites and the Internet, we do not observe a significant change in typical duration of celebrity.

We also study the most famous of the famous, and find different results depending on our method for measuring duration of fame. With a method that may be thought of as measuring a spike of attention around a single narrow news story, we see the same result as before:

stories last as long now as they did in 1930. A second method, which may be thought of as measuring the duration of public interest in a person, indicates that famous people's presence in the news is becoming longer rather than shorter, an effect most likely driven by the wider distribution and higher volume of media in modern times.

Similar studies have been done with much shorter timescales specifically in the context of information spreading on Twitter and similar social networking site. However, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first massive scale study of this nature that spans over a century of archived data, thereby allowing us to track changes across decades.

Another publication from the same category: Machine Learning and Data Science

WWW '17 Perth Australia April 2017

Drawing Sound Conclusions from Noisy Judgments

David Goldberg, Andrew Trotman, Xiao Wang, Wei Min, Zongru Wan

The quality of a search engine is typically evaluated using hand-labeled data sets, where the labels indicate the relevance of documents to queries. Often the number of labels needed is too large to be created by the best annotators, and so less accurate labels (e.g. from crowdsourcing) must be used. This introduces errors in the labels, and thus errors in standard precision metrics (such as P@k and DCG); the lower the quality of the judge, the more errorful the labels, consequently the more inaccurate the metric. We introduce equations and algorithms that can adjust the metrics to the values they would have had if there were no annotation errors.

This is especially important when two search engines are compared by comparing their metrics. We give examples where one engine appeared to be statistically significantly better than the other, but the effect disappeared after the metrics were corrected for annotation error. In other words the evidence supporting a statistical difference was illusory, and caused by a failure to account for annotation error.