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Sci Rep. 2014 Sep 26;4:6477. doi: 10.1038/srep06477.

Average is boring: how similarity kills a meme's success.

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CID - Harvard University 79 JFK St, Cambridge MA, US 02138.


Every day we are exposed to different ideas, or memes, competing with each other for our attention. Previous research explained popularity and persistence heterogeneity of memes by assuming them in competition for limited attention resources, distributed in a heterogeneous social network. Little has been said about what characteristics make a specific meme more likely to be successful. We propose a similarity-based explanation: memes with higher similarity to other memes have a significant disadvantage in their potential popularity. We employ a meme similarity measure based on semantic text analysis and computer vision to prove that a meme is more likely to be successful and to thrive if its characteristics make it unique. Our results show that indeed successful memes are located in the periphery of the meme similarity space and that our similarity measure is a promising predictor of a meme success.

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