How our storytelling nature means we deeply misunderstand the mechanics of fame (and much else…)

Should the Mona Lisa be our most famous painting? Was Harry Potter destined to (repeatedly) sweep the globe? What would happen to everyone and everything famous if we ran the experiment that is our world over again? Find out why fame is truly unpredictable, how it lives and dies entirely in our social stories, and why "... there is no such thing as fate, only the story of … [Read more...]

Now online: the Dow Jones Index of Happiness

Total excitement people: our website hedonometer.org has gone live.  We're measuring Twitter's happiness in real time.  Please check it out! If you're still here, here's the blurb from the site's about page: Happiness: It’s what most people say they want. So how do we know how happy people are? You can’t improve or understand what you can’t measure. In a blow to happiness, … [Read more...]

A data-driven study of the patterns of life for 180,000 people

Here at the Computational Story Lab, some of us commute by foot, some by car, and a few deliver themselves by bike, even in the middle of our cold, snowful Vermont winter.  Occasionally, we transport ourselves over very long distances in magic flying tubes with wings to attend conferences, to see family, or for travel.  So what do our movement patterns look like over time?  Are … [Read more...]

Who will your friends be next week? The link prediction problem

Sitting in the student center of our university, I am surrounded by hundreds of students enjoying their lunch and socializing. They’re strengthening (and in some cases weakening) their social ties. Given the ability to observe this social network over time, we would see that some relationships flourish, while others disappear altogether. This situation is not unique to … [Read more...]

What’s the Most Important Theorem?

Mathematical truths are organized in an incredibly structured manner. We start with the basic properties of the natural numbers, called axioms, and slowly, painfully work our way up, reaching the real numbers, the joys of calculus, and far, far beyond. To prove new theorems, we make use of old theorems, creating a network of interconnected results—a mathematical house of … [Read more...]