Why social networks are sucking up more of your time

Published on January 12, 2011   ·   No Comments
by Jamie Condliffe

Think Facebook sucks up your time? Well, it’s only going to get worse, according to a study that suggests users become more active in online social networks the bigger they become.

Researchers at City University of Hong Kong considered behaviour in two online networks: the Chinese blogging site Sina and a peer-to-peer file-sharing system called Tianwang. By comparing the growth of these networks with user activity, they were able to settle a long-standing dispute.

When it comes to the growth of online social networks, there are two competing schools of thought. One assumes that networks grow in a linear fashion: in other words, the activity of each user doesn’t change much and so network activity grows in proportion with the number of users. The second theory suggests that network growth is non-linear: as a network grows in size, users also use it more, causing total network activity to increase far more quickly than the linear model would predict.

The team found that their results overwhelmingly support the non-linear hypothesis. They observed that both blogging and peer-to-peer file-sharing sites see users becoming far more active on the networks the larger they get. In the case of the peer-to-peer network, the team found that if the number of users doubled, their activity rose by a factor of 3.16. They also discovered that the bigger the inequality in activity between users, the quicker the network will grow.

newscientist.com

Read More: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19939-why-social-networks-are-sucking-up-more-of-your-time.html

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