Blur Circle

Steve Yost's weblog
January 07, 2003
power laws and Amazon's also-bought lists
I haven't posted in awhile. Maybe I'm laying low while the new year's resolution storm blows over. Also, I've been writing in my own private paper journal with a pen. There's a certain pleasure in just that physical act, and since I'm not a my-life-on-the-web blogger, it's a place to record more personal reflections.

Anyway, David's link to Adina Levin's post about Valdis Krebs' diagram prompted me to post this in her comments section. I'm leery that not many people read blog comments, so here's my comment:

I'm not a statistician, but the networks of books shown by Amazon also-boughts, being a sort of highly connected social network, seem like a good case for a power-law distribution. I think this means that there are bound to be peaks and valleys of influence.

That said, I'm not sure what to make of Krebs' chart. When I go to http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0195144201, I don't see *any* of the links he shows in Amazon's also-bought list for What Went Wrong. It could be that Amazon's lists are very dynamic, which calls into question the validity of the chart.

Still, I'm convinced that there certainly will be circles of influence of ideas that don't overlap much. Though they've always existed in social networks, they're better defined by things like the also-read lists. Tools like that, because they weigh against random browsing, could be causing the power-law distribution to be more pronounced, i.e. we do become more tightly grouped in our communal views.

Of course there's a power law distribution of blogroll links too. Has anyone mapped that? I've seen the map of all blog links, but it's too dense to reveal distributions.
Discuss January 07, 2003 11:49 AM