How Ideas Are Spread

New Search Method Tracks Down Influential Ideas
Princeton University (10/20/10) Chris Emery

Princeton University computer scientists have developed a method that uses computer algorithms to trace the origins and spread of ideas, which they say could make it easier to measure the influence of scholarly papers, news stories, and other information sources.

The algorithms analyze how language changes over time within a group of documents and determines which documents had the most influence.

“The point is being able to manage the explosion of information made possible by computers and the Internet,” says Princeton professor David Blei. He says the search method could eventually enable historians, political scientists, and other scholars to study how ideas originate and spread.

The Princeton method enables computers to analyze the actual text of documents, instead of focusing on citations, to see how the language changes over time. “We are also exploring the idea that you can find patterns in how language changes over time,” Blei says.


I think this is cool.  I wonder a lot where ideas come from.   William Gibson’s latest greatest offering has a lot of this sort of thinking discussed in it.  It is disguised as “cool hunting” and other types of (mostly) marketing techniques.   And art. It’s a good book.  Zero History.

I’ve loved every single one of his books so of course I have to recommend it (and him).  His characters always seem so authentic, even when they are weird as hell.  Or, maybe especially when they are weird as hell.  And somehow I identify with lots of them. (!) It’s science fiction, but not particularly futuristic.  CyberPunk, really.  Good stuff, Maynard.

Cool Date Ideas

Alright, I’m old and don’t go on many dates, but I would have loved this list if I was younger and single.  I could just see doing #17 with someone fun ….

Unusual (and fun!) Date Ideas, from oncealways

1. Go on a search for as many good climbing trees as possible, climb as high as you both can in all of them, compile photo evidence
2. Go to a major chain bookstore, and leave notes to future readers in copies of your favorite books
3. Have her dress up as a ghost and you dress up as Pacman. Walk around downtown holding hands, and whenever anyone sees you two, pretend to be embarrassed, and run off screaming “wocka wocka wocka.”
4. Create photo evidence suggesting that you went on an adventure that didn’t really happen
5. Dress up as superherous and stop at least one petty crime “ie. jaywalking, littering….”
6. Build forts out of furniture and blankets, and wage war with paper airplanes.
7. Try and visit as many people as you can in one night, and turn as many things inside their apartment upside down as you can, without them noticing.
8. Go to the airport, get the cheapest, soonest departing flight to anywhere when you show up, and stay there for a weekend.
9. Write a piece of fiction together. Outside at a cafe. Ask strangers when you get stuck.
10. Dress to the nines, pretend to be married, and test drive very expensive vehicles at an auto dealership.
11. Do the lamest tourist thing in your area that you have both secretly wanted to do forever. Have an unabashed good time!
12. In the middle of the night, drive to the beach, so you arrive just as the sun is rising. Have a breakfast picnic, then fall asleep together. Bring a sun umbrella.
13. Drive somewhere unknown and have dinner in a city you’ve never been to. With fake names.
14. Go to a minor league baseball game under the stars. Tell each other stories about how bad you are at athletics. Randomly cheer for both teams. Eat lots of Cracker Jacks.
15. Go around the city with sidewalk chalk and draw hearts with equations inside on random things
16. Walk around a city and perform short silent plays in front of security cameras
17. With camera and pair of boots, make a photolog of a day in the life of the invisible man.
18. Walk around the city all night and find a place to eat breakfast at dawn
19. Go to a restraunt and convince the cook to create something completely new for you.
20. Rent a movie you’ve never seen before. Set on mute and improvise dialogue.

Quote O’ The Day

Two of ’em.  I think I’ve posted the first one before but I like it enough to do it twice.

Don’t worry about people stealing an idea. If it’s original, you will have to ram it down their throats.
– Howard Aiken


The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.
– David Friedman