Novelty and collective attention.

PNAS 104(45):17599 (2007) PMID 17962416 PMCID PMC2077036

The subject of collective attention is central to an information age where millions of people are inundated with daily messages. It is thus of interest to understand how attention to novel items propagates and eventually fades among large populations. We have analyzed the dynamics of collective attention among 1 million users of an interactive web site,, devoted to thousands of novel news stories. The observations can be described by a dynamical model characterized by a single novelty factor. Our measurements indicate that novelty within groups decays with a stretched-exponential law, suggesting the existence of a natural time scale over which attention fades.