Zipf's, Heaps' and Taylor's laws are ubiquitous in many different systems where innovation processes are at play. Together, they represent a compelling set of stylized facts regarding the overall statistics, the innovation rate and the scaling of fluctuations for systems as diverse as written texts and cities, ecological systems and stock markets. Many modeling schemes have been proposed in literature to explain those laws, but only recently a modeling framework has been introduced that accounts for the emergence of those laws without deducing the emergence of one of the laws from the others or without ad hoc assumptions. This modeling framework is based on the concept of adjacent possible space and its key feature of being dynamically restructured while its boundaries get explored, i.e., conditional to the occurrence of novel events. Here, we illustrate this approach and show how this simple modelling framework, instantiated through a modified Polya's urn model, is able reproduce Zipf's, Heaps' and Taylor's laws within a unique self-consistent scheme. In addition the same modelling scheme embraces other less common evolutionary laws (Hoppe's model and Dirichlet processes) as particular cases.
Today, at the IndieWeb Summit 2017, Ryan Barrett, while giving a presentation on some data research he’s been doing on the larger Indieweb community, called me out for a ridiculous number of rel-me’s on a single page. His example cited me as having 177 of them on a single page! I tracked it down and it was actually an archive page that included the following post How many social media related accounts can one person have on the web?!.
What is a rel=”me”?
Rel=”me” is a microformat tag put on hyperlinks that indicates that the paged linked to is another representation of the person who controls the site/page you’re currently looking at. Thus on my home page the Facebook bug has a link to my facebook account which is another representation of me on the web, thus it has a rel=”me” tag on it.
His data is a bit old as I now maintain a page entitled Social Media Accounts and Links with some (but far from all) of my disparate and diverse social media accounts. That page currently has 190 rel=”me”s on it! While there was one other example that had rel-mes pointing to every other internal page on the site (at 221, if I recall), I’m proud to say, without gaming the system in such a quirky way, that each and every one of the rel=”me” URLs is indeed a full legitimate use of the tag.
I’m proud to be at the far end of the Zipf tail for this. And even more proud to be tagged as such during the week in which Microformats celebrates its 12th birthday. But for those doing research or who need edge cases of rel-me use, I’m also happy to serve as a unique test case. (If I’m not mistaken, I think my Google+ page broke one of Ryan’s web crawlers/tools in the past for a similar use-case a year or two ago).
The Moral of the Story
The take away from this seemingly crazy and obviously laughable example is simply just how fragmented one’s online identity can become by using social silos. Even more interesting for some is the number of sites on that page which either no longer have links or which are crossed out indicating that they no longer resolve. This means those sites and thousands more are now gone from the internet and along with them all of the data that they contained not only for me but thousands or even millions of other users.
This is one of the primary reasons that I’m a member of the Indieweb, have my own domain, and try to own all of my own data.
While it seemed embarrassing for a moment (yes, I could hear the laughter even in the live stream folks!), I’m glad Ryan drew attention to my rel-me edge case in part because it highlights some of the best reasons for being in the Indieweb.
(And by the way Ryan, thanks for a great presentation! I hope everyone watches the full video and checks out the new site/tool!)
A mathematical model could lead to a new approach to the study of what is possible, and how it follows from what already exists.