Researchers look into social marketing in online communities

Online communities include people from many different groups and networks. Academics are now looking into the growth of these communities and how to market to them. SFI External Professor Duncan Watts shares his research regarding key influencers in reaching the masses.

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NIH increases its support for high-impact research with $138 million

The National Institutes of Health announced today that it has increased its support of high-impact research with 2008 NIH Director’s Pioneer and New Innovator Awards to 47 scientists. Each Pioneer Award provides $2.5 million in direct costs over five years. New Innovator Awards are for $1.5 million in direct costs over the same time period. Included in the Pioneer Award recipients is Joshua M. Epstein, Ph.D., Brookings Institution Center on Social and Economic Dynamics director and Santa Fe Institute external professor, who will integrate behavioral factors into models of the development and progression of infectious and chronic diseases.

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Hidden Infections Crucial to Understanding, Controlling Disease Outbreaks

Scientists at the University of Michigan, including Santa Fe Institute External Professor Mercedes Pascual, are researching the cycles of the infectious disease cholera by studying less dramatic, mild infections lurking in large numbers of people. Their findings will appear in Nature Magazine. Their goal was to understand the patterns of cholera, particularly the impact of infection-induced immunity on the dynamics of cholera outbreaks. Since it is difficult to get very sick from cholera, there are a lot of people who are walking around with the disease in high infection areas such as Bengal, and these researchers were interested in studying the consequences of this. Their findings showed that many more people are being exposed to the bacteria than are getting serious infections or dying, and that individuals with mild infections are losing their immunity quite quickly.

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New Bluetooth System Orients Blind And Sighted Pedestrians

A new bluetooth system, called Talking Points, has been developed at the University of Michigan. The new system is primarily for the blind, but will also be useful for the sighted, and orients them to points of interest as they move around. It is the first step to an audio virtual reality. This is the first known system of its kind to use Bluetooth technology. "Location-based guide systems of one kind or another have been built and re-built by academic researchers for over a decade now, but this is the first project that has really focused on the needs of the visually impaired and gone out to make sure the system is being developed to meet those needs," said Mark Newman, co-author of the papers being presented and External Professor at Santa Fe Institute.

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Peak oil "wrong," says Schwartz

Environmental futurist and Santa Fe Institute trustee Peter Schwartz says that peak oil is not a driver of clean technology and those that support it are wrong. The peak oil theory claims that US oil production would peak between 1965 — 1970. Schwartz, however, claims we do not know how much oil is out in the world, and that estimates are conservative.

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Gorbachev calls for more international cooperation

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev decries America's military buildup since the Cold War and he is calling for more international cooperation in addressing political and environmental problems. Gorbachev says the growing U.S. defense budget is pushing other countries to do the same and he contends that the expansion of conventional weapons also will undermine efforts to abolish nuclear weapons. Gorbachev, who left office in 1991, was in Santa Fe to deliver a speech to benefit the Santa Fe Institute, a research and education center. He made his comments at a news conference before his lecture.

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MIT: Turning 'funky' quantum mysteries into computing reality

The strange world of quantum mechanics can provide a way to surpass limits in speed, efficiency and accuracy of computing, communications and measurement, according to research by (SFI External Professor) MIT scientist Seth Lloyd. "There are limits, if you think classically," said Lloyd, a professor in MIT ’s Research Laboratory of Electronics and Department of Mechanical Engineering. But while classical physics imposes limits that are already beginning to constrain things like computer chip development and precision measuring systems, "once you think quantum mechanically you can start to surpass those limits," he said.

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COMMENTARY The Coming Ad Revolution by (SFI Trustee) Esther Dyson

The discussion about privacy is changing as users take control over their own online data. While they spread their Web presence, these users are not looking for privacy, but for recognition as individuals -- whether by friends or vendors. This will eventually change the whole world of advertising. The current online-advertising model will become less effective, even as it gets increasingly sophisticated.... This approach (called behavioral targeting and already in service by ad networks that track users through so-called tracking cookies) undercuts traditional online publishers, who employ content to lure users and to sell adjacent ads....This does not mean that traditional online advertising will go away, just that it will become less effective. Value is being created in users' own walled gardens, which they will cultivate for themselves in real estate owned by the social networks. The new value creators are companies -- like Facebook and Dopplr -- that know how to build and support online communities.

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EBay cuts listing fee for sellers at online auction website

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - EBay said on Tuesday it is cutting fees it charges people to offer items for sale and raising standards at the online auction website. In a move aimed at staving off increasing competition from the likes of Google and Craigslist, eBay is trimming fees it charges aspiring sellers by as much as half. This is the first time eBay has offered incentives and discounts to sellers since it was founded in 1995 by (Santa Fe Institute Trustee and) French-born Iranian computer programmer Pierre Omidyar.

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SFI Trustee Michael Mauboussin (Legg Mason Capital Management) in Harvard Business Review's "Breakthrough Ideas for 2008"

(Santa Fe Institute Trustee) Michael Mauboussin says that as computing power grows and networks unleash the wisdom of crowds, the unique value of experts in making predictions and solving problems is steadily narrowing. This trend, “the expert squeeze,” doesn’t necessarily mean that expertise will become dispensable, only that organizations must change how they use experts.

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Dartmouth researchers develop computational tool to untangle SFI Professor Rockmore creates a tool to untangle complex data

December 17, 2008 / SFI External Professor Daniel Rockmore and colleagues created the “partition decoupling method” (PDM) which combines the partition scrubbing method and the hierarchical spectral clustering method. The PDM would be used for decomposing the correlation networks of the markets. The end result would reveal interdependencies in the network components. This information would be useful in risk management and portfolio construction. It could also be used with complex systems other than the financial market such as the brain or political orientation.

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