Impact of Human Activity Patterns on the Dynamics of Information Diffusion

, and . Physical Review Letters 103 (3): 038702+ (July 2009)


We study the impact of human activity patterns on information diffusion. To this end we ran a viral email experiment involving 31 183 individuals in which we were able to track a specific piece of information through the social network. We found that, contrary to traditional models, information travels at an unexpectedly slow pace. By using a branching model which accurately describes the experiment, we show that the large heterogeneity found in the response time is responsible for the slow dynamics of information at the collective level. Given the generality of our result, we discuss the important implications of this finding while modeling human dynamical collective phenomena.

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