Diffusion and the Pop Song

September 29, 2012

(cross-posted here)
I just completed Gabriel Rossman‘s Climbing the Charts: What Radio Airplay Tells Us about the Diffusion of Innovation. Basically the question at the heart of the book is what makes a song (or songs in general) popular? As with Fabio Rojas’s take on it, I found the book really interesting, enjoyable to think through and useful to think with. He summarizes one aspect i especially liked about the book:

Rossman has a simple, but powerful, idea. The different stories imply different diffusion curves (graphs that map market saturation vs. time). Each story comes with a different curve. The “lightning in a bottle” story (hot songs diffuse through market networks) has a classical S-shaped curve. Promotion by the record industry has a discontinuous step function…

I agree that’s one of the particular strengths of the book. I also think it’s readily teachable, and will likely make an appearance in a future iteration of intro and/or my undergrad networks class. I have only a couple of minor quibbles with it, which largely stem from my not being in the sociology of culture inner-circle, and may be readily apparent to those who are.

Read the rest of this entry »


Calling all Demographers

September 17, 2012

Double posted from here.

So, i’m fiddling with some citation data for a few Demography journals,* and came up with a couple of weird data points that i can’t account for, so thought i’d see what teh intertubes could tell me about it. Basically, early in the process of working with this sort of data, I like to take a look at “Citation Age” information.** This gives a sense of how old the literature is that people are drawing on in a given time period. These often roughly follow linear increases (though the rate of “aging” differs across fields). Anyway,  this one presented a couple of pretty extreme outliers (i’ve done this more than just a couple of times, and haven’t seen others this different). I can’t account for them, so am looking for any potential explanations.

Unfortunately the data isn’t currently in a format that would let me actually “solve” what’s accounting for this, but i should be able to soon, so it could be fun to see whose/which theories hold up. Anyway, if looking at this information by year, 1988 and 1991 are considerable outliers (see the plot after the jump). It would appear that most of the “blip” in 1988 comes from increased citations to work roughly 50 years before, while the one in 1991 comes from citations to work roughly 70 years earlier. Given that i’m not a “full fledged” demographer (training-wise), i’m guessing others of you might be able to help me out here. What happened in 1988 that led people to suddenly read/cite work from the 1930s and from 1991 to suddenly read things from the 1920s***? All potential explanations welcome. Read the rest of this entry »

The Role of the Federal Reserve

September 15, 2012

Most educated people have no idea how important the Fed is.  I’m not the best guy to explain it to you, but since not everyone reads Paul Krugman, let alone Scott Sumner, I should say something…

These past few years we’ve really really needed a bit more inflation and its finally coming.  Ben Bernanke recently announced that the Fed will finally do more to juice the economy.  This NyTimes article about it gives too much space to the “conventional wisdom,” and pays too little attention to the economists who have been, for years now, arguing that the Fed should be more active.  While not everyone agrees about the desirability of quantitative easing, the ranks of QE3 supporters have been growing and they include a diverse bunch: conservatives and liberals, monetarists and Keynesians of various stripes: Paul Krugman and Brad Delong,  Tyler Cowen and Scott Sumner.

Glass half-full: I think the Fed has just given us a big nudge towards better times.

Glass half-empty: A lot of people are hurting in this economy, and its incredibly sad that the Fed didn’t do more sooner to help.  This is arguably the most under-reported story of the recession.  It didn’t have to be this bad.

Social Networks for Charity

August 22, 2012
So this isn’t totally irrelevant:
My brother, Matt Bishop, has started a social enterprise whose goal is to use social media, and social network analysis (aka “social analytics”) to help charitable groups raise money, and help businesses do their part as well.
iGiveMore is launching tomorrow.  They already offer some services, but they need our help to raise money (and publicity) so that every month that passes they have more to offer.
Check out their website, and then I hope you’ll consider donating, and emailing or posting a link to iGiveMore on facebook.

Math Soc Pre-ASA Conference, Thurs. Aug 16

August 14, 2012

As was announced on the website last spring:

The fifth Joint Japan-North America Mathematical Sociology Conference will be held on Thursday, August 16, 2012 in the Colorado Convention Center, Denver, Colorado. The conference focuses on advancement of mathematical sociology worldwide and fosters friendship among those whose work is on mathematical sociology in all countries. Thus this is a wonderful opportunity to know cutting-edge topics in mathematical sociology and to meet people who share great enthusiasm for it.

To register, please download this form and follow the included instructions. If you have questions please e-mail Yoshimichi Sato.

Unfortunately I will miss most of it, but look forward to meeting people there towards the end of the day.

The Formation of the Mathematical Sociology Secion, 1994-1996

July 22, 2012

Young sociologists might assume that the section has been around a long time. I just came across this:

History of the Formation of the Section, 1994-6
by David Heise, Indiana University, Chair of the section 2003-4. This appeared in The Mathematical
Sociologist, Newsletter of the Mathematical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association ,
Fall 2003
The first formal activity leading to the Mathematical Sociology Section occurred at a Professional
Workshop instigated and chaired by John Angle at the 1994 American Sociological Association annual
meeting in Los Angeles. After this workshop revealed genuine interest in creating a section, Eugene
Johnsen, with the assistance of a Steering Committee, produced a Mission Statement for a Mathematical
Sociology Section and, later, the By-Laws. The Steering Committee consisted of most of those involved in
the 1994 Workshop: John Angle, Stephen Berkowitz, Phillip Bonacich, Scott Feld, Sharlene Hesse-Biber,
James Hollander, Guillermina Jasso, Eugene Johnsen, Joel Levine, Timothy Liao, David McFarland, Alton
Okinaka, John Skvoretz, and Geoffrey Tootell.
A determined effort was made in the early years to bring the group’s interests to the attention of
sociologists in general and to display vital activities to the ASA. Eugene Johnsen organized and chaired a
Professional Workshop on “The Practice of Mathematical Sociology” at the 1995 ASA Meeting in
Washington D.C., with five invited speakers presenting papers. For the 1996 ASA Annual Meeting in New
York the section-in-formation proposed and received ASA approval for a Didactic Seminar by Stanley
Wasserman on social network analysis. At the 1997 ASA Meeting in Toronto, Phillip Bonacich presented
a Didactic Seminar, sponsored by the recently formed Mathematical Sociology Section


Finding Data

July 16, 2012
A friend asked me about where he might find education data to practice/play with.
Here are some links I came up with:
 http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/addhealth/ has open-access and restricted data.