Thursday, January 6, 2011

Goodness is Catching this Winter

Goodness is Catching this Winter: "

Good deeds are going viral with the How Good Grows campaign you’ve read about recently here on Anecdotal. At tens of thousands of people are sharing the good things they’re doing, inspiring others to follow suit, and watching their “ripples of kindness” spread over the Web.

How does it work? A person logs into the How Good Grows site and posts a status message about something kind, generous, or caring that they’ve done. As they post, they can elect to have the status message echoed on their Yahoo!, Facebook, and Twitter feeds. Once the message is sent out into the world, the site keeps count of how many people click on each post, how many like it, and importantly, how many people were inspired to do good deeds and share new acts of kindness. Each ring represents one degree of connection, so your ripple will grow when you share your good deed with your friends, who then share it with their friends, and so on.

Behind the Ripples of Kindness visualization is a science project, and as is our style at Yahoo! Research, it’s a big one, and run by researchers Sharad Goel, Duncan Watts, Dan Goldstein, who specialize in social networks and engineers Tejaswi Kasturi, Robert Messerle, and Tom Gulik. The motor running it all is called Y2O, a bottomless sharing engine we’ve built that gives every visitor to a site a unique link that they can pass on to others. Since Y2O dishes out the links, it keeps an anonymous count of how many people visit each link, which links bring people to a site, and which links lead to new links being formed. In short, because Y2O takes care of assigning new links to every new person that visits a site, Y2O can measure how much kindness you’re spreading no matter where you share it online. This means you’ll be able to watch links spread as they are passed around via Yahoo!, Twitter, Facebook, emails, instant messages, blogs, forums, SMSes, or beyond.

The Science of the Internet is young, but is already teaching us about how we are connected and the kinds of content that connect us. Online, we can share stories, images, and videos with people on the other side of the planet in an instant, but we quickly lose track of a message once we send it on to another person. We don’t know if we were the last person to share that piece of information, or if we started a ripple that grew to reach millions. While humans have been sharing since there have been humans, we can now begin to see from a distance what sharing looks like.

By Daniel Goldstein, Principal Research Scientist, Yahoo! Research


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