Websites success, failure may give clue to how humans balance talent and experience

September 12th, 2008 - 5:58 pm ICT by ANI  

London, September 12 (ANI): An Indian-origin researcher at the University of California in Los Angeles says that the age-old problem as to whether talent or experience matters most may be solved by analysing the rise and fall of websites.
Vwani Roychowdhury bases his suggestion on the fact that the success or failure of websites depends upon millions of human decisions.
He feels that it may be possible to quantify the balance between talent and experience on the web.
He and his colleagues Joseph Kong and Nima Sarshar from the University of Regina in Canada showed this by using “web crawlers” to visit some 22 million web pages once a month for a year.
Each time the researchers visited a page, they recorded the number of other pages that link to it: its “in-degree”.
The team found that the pages they deemed “winners”, those with an in-degree value more than 1000, were not all old, well-established pages that started the year with a high in-degree and high traffic, as they had expected.
Web pages that had not existed when the year began accounted for just under half of the winners, displacing an equal number of older, more established pages in the process.
That proportion remained the same even when the bar for success was raised, suggesting there is a general tendency for young websites to out-compete established websites half the time.
Roychowdhury said that the new pages could only pull themselves up from nowhere because of the quality of their content.
He said that they were pages with “talent”, able to compete against those with more “experience”.
Talent versus experience is difficult to document in a society. But what we show is that on the web it can be documented in terms of page popularity and newborn pages become more popular than older established pages on a regular basis,” New Scientist magazine quoted him as saying.
According to him, the web’’s success may be due to the roughly 50:50 balance between experience and talent that allows constant renewal without anarchy.
He even sees similarities in US politics.
“The fact that Obama got the nomination over Clinton is a testimony to the way a society rarely but consistently gives a thumbs up to talent over experience,” he said.
Roychowdhury believes that the new style of analysis may help search engines improve results.
A research article describing the study has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (ANI)

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