Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Yes, There Is a Correlation"

This week I came across an interesting paper: "Yes, There is a Correlation - From Social Networks to Personal Behavior on the Web" by Parag Singla (University of Washington) and Matthew Richardson (Microsoft Research) in WWW'2008.

In summary, they show that the similarity between the personal interests and attributes of two users who are MSN contacts is much higher than two random users. Moreover, I've found the problem formulation elegant and the scale of data non-trivial to handle (approx. 13 million unique users).

From the paper:

Summarizing the results, we showed that people who talk to each other on the messenger network are more likely to be similar than a random pair of users, where similarity is measured in terms of matching on attributes such as queries issued, query categories, age, zip and gender. Further, this similarity increases with increasing talk time. The similarities tend to decrease with increasing average time spent per message. Also, we showed that even within the same demographics, people who talk to each other are more likely to be similar. Finally, as we hop away in the messenger network, the similarity still exists, though it is reduced.

I wonder whether a similar level of correlation would be observed in online communities with other purposes, such as content-sharing (e.g. Flickr and YouTube).

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