From the Comments: Nudge Nudge, Herd Herd

A reader in Australia named Ian Lyons, in response to our “Herd Mentality” podcast, writes to say:

At the 2012 Sydney Festival, we created a sophisticated set of interactive dashboards showing which artists were buzzing (on Twitter and Facebook) in real-time, where people were coming from, interesting facts and live photos.

To my astonishment the most popular tool simply allowed you to see which show other people from your postcode were going to see. Viewed through the lens of behavioral economics, this makes perfect sense but it’s the opposite of what I would have predicted instinctively. In fact it almost didn’t get deployed because it was too simple.


Seems to me this (like much of the "herd mentality"), is just a matter of self-selection. The only people likely to use such a tool are members of the herd interested in what the Festival had to offer, with the offerings pre-selected to appeal to that herd. I wonder a) how many people didn't use the tools at all because they simply weren't interested; and b) how many used it as a way to avoid popular venues?

Tabby Caat

This isn't surprising at all. Suppose you are trying to hook up with friends or neighbors - you might not have their cell phone but you could use this tool and find where most people in your code were going, and hope your friends/neighbors were doing the same. Or suppose you are single? Or you just want to make more friends - going to a show where people who live near you are also going is the best way to meet-up with someone who lives close to you.

I remember watching to a story a few years back about a test, where they took 2 groups of people and told them they had to figure out a way to meet someone from the other group by the end of the day. They were in New York City, and had no other information other than people from the other group were similarly trying to find them. Independently, they all recognized that there were a few key places everyone might try to meet - Times Square and Empire State building being the most likely. And that you would likely try to meet up at noon, or 6 pm. Everyone was successful at meeting up with a member of the opposite group, a total stranger, in a city of millions.


Eric M. Jones.

After months of puerile trash I didn't want ("Kathy has 1500 points in Farmville!") and some hacker from Rio DJ claiming he was me--Forgodsakes I already have an email address and an active cyberlife!--I dumped Facebook. Harder to do than I thought! I know people who gave up trying to get off it.