« PREVIOUS ENTRY
How the “fame effect” ruins comic-book movie characters
NEXT ENTRY »
Vote for John T. Unger’s recycled-tire paddles!
This is insanely cool. A social-networks theorist has studied the interlinkings between rappers — and found that their social ties are quite different from other people’s. Apparently, the most famous, well-connected rappers tend to avoid one another.
This isn’t how things normally work amongst creative professionals. In creative industries, we often see a supercharged version of the “six degrees” effect, because well-known creators frequently collaborate with one another. Their linkages are thus shorter than usual: Studies show that movie actors have only 2.5 links on average between them, versus 3.6 for company board directors and 5.9 for high-energy physicists.
So Reginald Smith at MIT crunched the figures on 30,000 rap songs to see what data he could glean. Sure enough, the artists had close linkages — it only took 2.9 links on average to connect together rappers together. But then he found an interesting quirk, as news@Nature reports:
Where the rap network differs from these others, however, is in a property called assortativity. This is a measure of how mixed the collaborations are between highly connected and less connected people. In assortative networks, well-connected individuals tend to prefer to make links with others similar to themselves. [snip]
There seems to be no such pattern for rappers. Smith suggests that this might be partly due to commercial competition between successful artists, who are reluctant to lend their cachet to a rival.
But he points out that the aversions of successful rap artists may go deeper than that. Feuds are common in the business, such as that which existed in the mid-1990s between artists signed to Death Row Records in Los Angeles and those with Bad Boy Records in New York. Such rivalries have sometimes led to violence and even murder.
It’s also true that hip-hop producers frequently spend their creative time nurturing new talent, which would be a much more benign reason for their lower assortativity. Either way, it’s a damn interesting piece of research.
(Thanks to Steve Emrich for this one!)
I'm Clive Thompson, a writer on science, technology, and culture. This blog collects bits of offbeat research I'm running into, and musings thereon.
Currently, I'm a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. I also write for Fast Company and Wired magazine's web site, among other places. Email or AOL IM me (pomeranian99) to say hi or send in something strange!
May 20, 2011 » 02:28 PM
From Christopher Kennedy’s very droll book “Neitzsche’s Horse”.
July 28, 2010 » 07:35 AM
“Wr” - S
July 06, 2010 » 10:05 AM
My Xbox broke, and I was trying to Google some possible technical solutions, when I noticed that Google appears to be encouraging me to make a typo. I suppose it’s possible that Google’s algorithms know that typing “wont” instead of “won’t” would produce better results.
June 29, 2010 » 05:00 PM
On the other hand, when I tried the test for multitasking, I was pretty abysmal. I performed worse than people who identify themselves as heavy multitaskers, and those who identify as low multitaskers.
June 29, 2010 » 04:58 PM
I finally got around to trying out the interactive “test your distractability and multitasking” page at the New York Times, which they put up alongside their story earlier this month about how computer distractions are eroding our lives.
According to the test, I guess I have good focus — I’m not very distractable!
El Rey Del Art
Frankly, I'd Rather Not
The Shifted Librarian
Howard Sherman's Nuggets
Donut Rock City
The Antic Muse
Techdirt Wireless News
Corante Gaming blog
Corante Social Software blog
Arts and Letters Daily
Alan Reiter's Wireless Data Weblog
Viral Marketing Blog