IC2s2 Wednesday Morning Keynotes

Cecliia Mascolo — human behaviour studies through the lens of mobile sensing and complex networks

She has been involved for many years in making and deploying sensors. The talk today will look at work they have been doing on foursquare data.

In London they have data of about 0.5M check-ins over nine months over about 40k users.

They also have social network data for these people, so they can connect their social network with the geo-spatial behaviour of these people. They have a two-layer network.

She talks about brokerage and structural holes. This is from Burt, Roland (1992), and they thought that this measure might provide interesting insight on their data.

There is a link between network openers and prosperity in theory, can they study this effect at scale?

A places social brokerage. s it’s ability to connect otherwise socially disconnected individuals. So is any given place connecting people who are not connected through their social links?

They can analyse the general signal of social brokerage based on the category of the kind of there place. You can also determine whether the place has more of a bonding role vs a bridging role.

They also then looked at deprivation studies (Hackney — where I live — sits in the pretty deprived part of the graph).

In 2011 Hackney was the most deprived area in London, but it also had a very high brokerage rank (how do we interpret this?). High brokerage indicates a high diversity in the area (which I can attest to about Hackney).

You can use this kind of tool for interesting types of urban discovery as well as looking at urban growth over time.

They can identify areas that have more new places, than expected in contrast to the growth of the rest of the city. You can see the effect of the olympics in London on the data.

You can also look at the effect of a new place opening on other places. The most competitive places are grocery stores,

The most cooperative places include Turkish Restaurants! (Along with gardens, monuments, plazas and tea rooms). The Turkish restaurant was a surprising result, it related to the Turkish community having a high Jensen coefficient.

You can also look at the temporal profile of places.

This was a great talk, that I felt was just scratching the surface of what can be determined from data like this.


Emily Falk — How ideas spread from Brain to Brain

So the key idea around this talk is that many key ideas spread through social media. Not all ideas get shared equally, what makes someone want to share an idea?

Some examples, it might be because it makes us look good, we think others might benefit from the information, we think others might be interested.

If you ask someone after the fact on why they shared, their self-reporting is unreliable.

They use fMRI to do brain scans while people are sharing content. They use oxygen flow as a proxy for brain activity.

In prior work they were able to predict future behaviour based on brain activity in selective areas of the brain when people are exposed to anti-smoking messages.

They observe that systems related to self-related thought and social cognition are activated during the process of evaluating whether to share an idea or not.

They ran an experiment looking at whether a chain of people would share a decision to promote a TV show (they created TV show ideas for the purpose of the experiment).

They also looked at participant behaviour around the decision to share NYT articles. They find evidence supporting the claim that the brain systems suggested earlier are really activated during the sharing process.

Looking at 40 participants, they could identify a measure of how much brain activation happened across those participants, and that is correlated to wide-spread sharing of those articles by the broader NYT community.

Not everyone’s brains are equally predictive. There is a fair amount of heterogeneity. Some people have a strong correlation with global sharing, what’s going on with these people’s brains?

It turns out that people who were regular NYT readers, their brains were activated by a lot of the NYT articles, and as a result were not so predictive of general sharing.

This is an amazing, and somewhat scary talk.