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Insights into internet memes

: Bauckhage, Christian

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Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence -AAAI-:
Fifth International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media 2011. Proceedings : Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, July 17 - 21, 2011
Menlo Park: AAAI Press, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-57735-505-2
International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media <5, 2011, Barcelona>
Conference Paper, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IAIS ()
web science; internet memes; information diffusion; Social Media

Internet memes are phenomena that rapidly gain popularity or notoriety on the Internet. Often, modifications or spoofs add to the profile of the original idea thus turning it into a phenomenon that transgresses social and cultural boundaries. It is commonly assumed that Internet memes spread virally but scientific evidence as to this assumption is scarce. In this paper, we address this issue and investigate the epidemic dynamics of 150 famous Internet memes. Our analysis is based on time series data that were collected from Google Insights, Delicious, Digg, and StumbleUpon. We find that differential equation models from mathematical epidemiology as well as simple log-normal distributions give a good account of the growth and decline of memes. We discuss the role of log-normal distributions in modeling Internet phenomena and touch on practical implications of our findings.