Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bursts and Brsts

Albert Laszlo Barabasi, one of the leading lights of network theory and research, has a new popular book out soon. It's called 'Bursts'. One of the blurb quotes on the webpage says that it looks at networks in time, in contrast to his earlier 'Linked', which looked at them in space. Sounds a bit like the Tipping Point, or possibly Phil Ball's Critical Mass. (I've read none of the books mentioned in this paragraph.)

To promote the book/allow readers to 'be part of a unique experiment', Barabasi has set up a game type thing at brsts.com. (Anyone else more inclined to read that as 'breasts' than 'bursts'? Oh.)

After registering, you can adopt a word of the text. You do this by perusing an online copy of the book where words that are taken are in orange and words that aren't are in green. You pick a green word, and then that word, along with every other word that's taken thus far, is revealed to you. I went to the chapter titled 'Deadly Quarrels and Power Laws', as the title reflects my current and past interests, and clicked on 'Technica'. Lucky old me.

You can get points by inviting your friends to sign up, or by guessing concealed words. This last is staggeringly easy, at least for words where some other known words are nearby, as the game gives you an anagram of the word in question.

If you get lots of points, you might get a free book. The current leader has 50,000 points, 40,000 more than second place, and has guessed early 8,000 words. I have 318, and am unlikely to rack up many more, so I guess I'll either be buying a copy, or trying to blag a review copy from somewhere.

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