Hypertext Conference 2008

SIS logo

ACM logo


Keynote Speakers

Bernardo Huberman
HP Labs


Prof. Jon Kleinberg
Cornell University

Social Dynamics in the Age of the Web


Link Structures, Information Flow, and Social Processes

Bernardo Huberman Abstract
The past decade has witnessed a momentous transformation in the way people interact and exchange information. Content is now coactively produced, shared, classified, and rated on the Web by millions of people, while attention has become an ephemeral and valuable resource that everyone seeks to acquire. This talk will describe our research on the interplay between popularity, novelty and collective attention in the Web, as well as a study of the dynamics of online opinion formation.

The speaker is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Social Computing Laboratory at HP labs, which focuses on methods for harvesting the collective intelligence of groups of people in order to realize greater value from the interaction between users and information. He is also a Consulting Professor of Physics in the Applied Physics Department at Stanford University.

Huberman's research focuses on distributed knowledge, social organizations and the economics of attention. One of the originators of the field of ecology of computation, Huberman is the author of the book, "The Laws of the Web: Patterns in the Ecology of Information," published by MIT Press.

Huberman is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a former trustee of the Aspen Center for Physics and Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. He has been a visiting Professor at the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark, the University of Paris, and Insead, the European School of Business in Fontainebleau, France.


In the ongoing movement toward socially-produced information resources, we are increasingly able to look through the content being created and see the individuals, incentives, and larger social processes at work. Designing and working with large-scale participatory social computing applications requires that we think not just about technological issues, but also about fundamental principles of human social interaction. Through the digital traces that these applications generate, we can begin to quantify and reason about such principles at unprecedented levels of scale and resolution.

In this talk, we consider a crucial type of social process in this setting -- the mechanisms by which information flows through groups of people engaged in sharing and synthesizing knowledge. As information, ideas, opinions, and beliefs spread through an underlying social network, their dynamics resemble that of an epidemic, moving "contagiously" from person to person. But social contagion is different from biological contagion in many respects; understanding the analogies and contrasts between these two kinds of processes leads us to consider the rich temporal characteristics of information flow within a network and the complex decision rules by which people choose to act on new information. The result is a richer picture of the communities that create knowledge and its interlinkages, and of the resources that ultimately arise from these processes.

Jon Kleinberg is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Cornell University. His research is concerned with issues at the interface of networks and information; in his recent work, he has focused on the social processes that underpin large, decentralized information systems.
Kleinberg is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the recipient of MacArthur, Packard, and Sloan Foundation Fellowships, the Nevanlinna Prize from the International Mathematical Union, and the National Academy of Sciences Award for Initiatives in Research.