There are innumerable companies (and individuals) in the business of trying to measure things like how content spreads on the web, why some content goes viral, and which social media users are most influential in making it happen. (Here at Marketing Land and Search Engine Land, we seem to get a new PR pitch on the subject every week.)
But it may be that the New York Times — traditional media’s “Gray Lady” — has the best tool of all to explain that.
It’s called Project Cascade — a 3D visualization tool developed by the Times Research & Development Lab that you (and I) may not have heard about before, but has been around since last spring.
This short video shows how Project Cascade works, and the visualizations are nothing short of stunning:
This Fast Company Design article explains it this way:
Cascade takes an isolated social-media event, like a tweet, and shows the entire chain of reactions that results — what Thorp and his colleagues call a Twitter “cascade.” It can do this in real time. And it can tell you not just that a story caught fire, but how, exactly, the story caught fire; how a tweet from a network scientist made the article “But Will It Make You Happy?” on cutting back one’s material possessions go viral.
Project Cascade is being used internally for the New York Times properties but, as the video above says in its final 40 seconds, the Times will work with other publishers to analyze their data and may offer a version of Project Cascade “to any entity that uses social media to initiate, conduct or encourage conversation.”
(tip via Visual News)