ICWSM best paper award for work on study of online social dynamics

A paper by AISL CO-PI Lada Adamic and her students received a best paper award from the Fourth International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media. The paper studied how online social structures effected economic activity in Second Life, a massively multiplayer virtual world that allows its users to create and trade virtual objects and commodities.

The rise of online social environments like Second Life are important for information sharing for two reasons. First, the provide researchers with an opportunity to easily collect vast amounts of data about the behavior of real people. Such data is invaluable in developing and testing new models to better understand the factors that underlie information sharing behavior. Second, online social environments have become an important way that people interact to share information. Understanding how they work and can be better managed is important.

Dr. Adamic and her students estimated the strength of social ties in Second Life using the frequency of chatting between pairs of users. They found that free items are more likely to be exchanged as the strength of the tie increases and that social ties particularly play a significant role in paid transactions for sellers with a moderately sized customer base. They also developed a novel method of visualizing the transaction activities.

Eytan Bakshy, Matthew Simmons, David Huffaker, ChunYuen Teng, Lada Adamic, The Social Dynamics of Economic Activity in a Virtual World, Fourth International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, May 2010.

This paper examines social structures underlying economic activity in Second Life (SL), a massively multiplayer virtual world that allows users to create and trade virtual objects and commodities. We find that users conduct many of their transactions both within their social networks and within groups. Using frequency of chat as a proxy of tie strength, we observe that free items are more likely to be exchanged as the strength of the tie increases. Social ties particularly play a significant role in paid transactions for sellers with a moderately sized customer base. We further find that sellers enjoying repeat business are likely to be selling to niche markets, because their customers tend to be contained in a smaller number of groups. But while social structure and interaction can help explain a seller’s revenues and repeat business, they provide little information in the forecasting a seller’s future performance. Our quantitative analysis is complemented by a novel method of visualizing the transaction activity of a seller, including revenue, customer base growth, and repeat business.

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